In March 2017, we established a relationship with a Swedish charity called Hundar Utam Hem. One of our dogs, Milo, had been waiting for a home for over three years, so one of our volunteers decided, as a last resort, to send his photo and information to as many SPCA groups around the country as possible and requested that they share on their Facebook pages. The post about Milo was seen by a lady in Cork, Orla O Regan Power, who made contact and asked could she feature him on a page she runs called ‘Paw it Furwards’, and explained that her page had many followers in Sweden and that perhaps someone there might be interested in giving him a home. No more that 30 minutes later, she came back to say that she had a lady called Annika who was very interested in offering Milo his forever home….and here the journey with Hundar Utan Hem began. Orla put us in contact with Carina Olsson, and she made all the arrangements for Milo to travel…
Just a bit of history about Carina and her charity, she started the group somewhat accidentally in 2005. Carina was working in marketing at the time and looking to adopt a dog. She google searched for the words “dog pound”, and she found a link to an Irish pound featuring images of dogs alongside the date they would be put down.
“I got really upset. This is far from how we do things in Sweden. So I called them and told them I’ll book a flight on Wednesday and come and collect all the dogs. They didn’t take me seriously,” she says.
Feeling very upset at the conditions of the first pound that she visited, Carina adopted 12 dogs and eventually found homes for them all in Sweden. So began Hundar Utan Hem (translation from Swedish: homeless dogs). Carina now divides her time between Hundar Utan Hem and work as a dog trainer.
“I wanted to help every dog, now I realise you can’t. I had to make the choice which to save and which not to save, and that’s really hard,” she says.
Carina is amazed at the difference between Swedish and Irish attitudes on dog ownership. In Stockholm, dogs live charmed lives, riding the trains and visiting the supermarkets with their owners. Carina can only remember encountering one stray dog in Sweden in her life, and that one was found by the police four hours after it disappeared, after the owner placed a missing dog call.
“Dogs sleep in the bedroom, sometimes in the bed and they always live indoors,” she says.
“In Ireland, I noticed one of the questions for rehousing a dog is ‘Will the dog sleep inside or will it sleep out in the garden?’ I was thinking, ‘why would you have a dog if he’s going to sleep in the back garden?’”
Once they arrive in Sweden, Carina says the dogs have very little problem adapting to their new country.
All dogs are vaccinated and microchipped, and neutered before they travel to Sweden and Carina does everything possible to assure the dog will be arriving in a settled household. A representative of her group will conduct an interview with the prospective family, as well as a home-check.
“Luckily very few of the dogs we deal with have been physically abused, they’ve just been ignored,” she says.
It is the moment where the unwanted dog from Ireland is paired with its new family that’s most rewarding for Carina.
“You see them in Ireland and you bring them to Sweden and the family is so excited and they’ve spent all this money for it. It’s great to see to see that a dog that was about to be put down being so loved,” she says.
Carina is particularly concerned by reports she has received from Irish pounds that dog owners commit their sick or ageing dogs to the pound rather than pay for veterinary care.
At the moment, Hundar Utan Hem are sending about 32 dogs to Sweden every fortnight from a number of rescue groups around the country including the KWWSPCA. The new owners pay for the transport of the dog, and also pay a donation to the charity to partly offset veterinary fees involved in preparing the dog for travel.
In 2017, the KWWSPCA re homed 31 dogs to Sweden. In 2018 it was 60 dogs; in 2019 it was 25; in 2020 it was 34 and in 2021 it was 14. The smaller number of dogs going to Sweden in the last three years, compared to 2018, is not a reflection of lack of demand in Sweden, it is more due to an increase in demand for rescue dogs in Ireland. We mainly re-home to Sweden dog breeds who face prejudice in Ireland, such as Lurchers and Greyhounds.
Some photos of our happily rehomed dogs enjoying life in Sweden…