Can we please dispense with the term “Forever Home”.

Rescue dog, re-homing dog

When, where and why did the the phrase “forever home” cross over from bricks and mortar to be used in the context of finding new homes for rescued animals? Which marketing guru conjured up this gem of an extremely successful marketing and fund-raising tool. Surely though its use has run its course and the word overkill comes to mind. To make matters worse the term has recently begun to evolve or mutate into further cringe worthy words such as “fureverandpaweverto name just two. Not only that, but I recently noticed that Battersea Dogs Home has now transformed its use into promoting their caring scheme for cats whose owners have died – under the banner “Forever loved“.

I spent some ten years as a manager of animal rescue centres until the mid 90’s but have no memory of its usage and then suddenly it became part of our daily vocabulary and in all animal charity fund-raising literature. Now it has spread all over the world. I was recently in Australia, the USA and in Portugal and yes they use it there. Every interview with a member of staff at an animal rescue home is interspersed with it and I await with bated breath for someone to utter it. 

Whenever I watch an animal rescue TV documentary and see the sight of a dog that has spent months in kennels finally walking side by side with its new owners out of the entrance to the suitable accompaniment of background music, I am moved like most other people. That is until I hear that dratted phrase again.

Disingenuous term

Rescue dog, rescue kennel

Realistically it is a disingenuous term as I know very well that you can never guarantee that the person taking the animal will keep it for the rest of its lifespan and staff often have their fingers crossed as the new owners disappear into their car. I know I often had my fingers crossed behind my back. Its a sad fact that too many owners are looking for the perfect match and often return them. 

Too many fickle owners for homes to be forever.

There are too many fickle owners these days which is why we have so many unwanted animals languishing forlornly in rescues in the first place. I realise that “forever homes” is a wonderful fund-raising term and a very successful one but enough already. With everyone now using the term it has kind of lost its impact so is there any chance we could please move onto some other phrase or perhaps return to the good old days where we blandly referred to it as just finding new home or a suitable home, loving home or even just a nice home.

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Author: John Brookland

John Brookland has been passionate about animals from an early age and has always been more concerned about their individual health and well-being than any scientific or zoological interest. During his long and varied career in animal welfare in the U.K. and worldwide, he has unfortunately witnessed most of the horrors of animal cruelty there is to see and has gained extensive insight into animal welfare issues. On leaving school he trained as an RSPCA clinic assistant in London and later was manager of one of their veterinary hospitals and an animal centre. He was Chief Inspector and manager of the Bahamas Humane Society in Nassau and spent time in Trinidad advising on a humane stray dog control service, before becoming a deputy manager and animal health inspector at Heathrow's Animal Quarantine Centre. He then travelled the world for a conservation group investigating the capture and transport of wildlife for the pet trade and was an honorary consultant to the IUCN and CITES. He is now retired and still travelling the world with his partner to view wildlife and wild places and writing a blog and books on animals.