Foster carers needed for Christmas

December 3, 2023 BY

Lacey loves a laugh with kennel attendant Scarlett Moloney. Lacey has been in the shelter for around five months. Photo: ANGUS SMITH

GEELONG Animal Welfare Society (GAWS) is calling on members of the public to volunteer as foster carers this Christmas as the number of dogs in care surges.

Fundraising and Community Engagement Coordinator Alexa Hayley says there are currently 170 dogs looking for a home, which is a 20 per cent increase from the same time last year.

To find out more about foster care or donating visit gaws.org.au

“Last year we had around 3,400 animals in care, this year we have had 3,700 animals in care.” This includes both in the shelter and through their foster carer network.

The dogs are a combination of lost dogs, strays and surrenders from the Surf Coast, Bellarine, Geelong and Golden Plains.

Dr Hayley, also a psychology researcher at Deakin University specialising in human-animal interactions, says the reasons are complex.

“Some of the most common reasons for the past year have been housing displacement and economic pressures.”

“Sometimes people have expectations about the way the pet should behave towards them, and when the animal doesn’t meet that expectation, they surrender it.”

Dr Hayley says they are still seeing the impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic.

“Everyone was at home, and people were encouraged to get animals as a way to alleviate mental distress.”

“What we found though was that many of those dogs didn’t get socialised properly.”

In the past financial year, GAWS has managed to either reunite, or rehabilitate and rehome, 3,186 animals — 90 per cent of the 3,540 animals who left their care during that time.

GAWS Animal Care Supervisor Danielle Richens says anyone can be a foster carer if they find the right match.

“Some of our dogs come to us shutdown or may need a bit of help coming out of their shell or sometimes there are medical cases that need some medical work, or perhaps a dog has been here for some months and they need some respite from the shelter.”

Sometimes the foster carer falls in love with the dog and wants to keep it.

“We call that foster failing,” Mrs Richens said.

“I have two dog that I have foster failed, and two cats that I have foster failed, so I brought them home to look after them short term and I just fell in love and couldn’t return them.”

“It happens quite a lot.”

Mrs Richens said it was impossible to identify her favourites

“But obviously the longer a dog is here the more you are really hoping that they find a good home.”

“Lilly who is a German Shepherd has been here for several months and is still looking for a home, we also have Lacey who is sitting at about five months in shelter.”

“Lilly is so affectionate, if she can find a person that will be her whole world she will be over the moon.”

GAWS shelter is a charity not funded by local or state government and relies on community donations and goodwill to survive and is currently running a Christmas appeal.