Perfect month to adopt a pooch or pet
WITH tails high and noses down, fantastic beasts and four-legged friends have taken over the streets.
Dogs, cats and creatures great and small are suddenly everywhere as the shift towards working from home and the need for companionship has driven demand for pet ownership.
With pandemic pets selling at a premium, the biggest winners have been the rescue pets adopted or fostered from shelters.
Last year, PetRescue recorded 63,600 adoptions across Australia with over 14,000 being adopted in Victoria alone.
The most popular pets for adoption were cats and dogs, however many other species were also adopted, including horses, goats, birds, rabbits and even an alpaca.
At some shelters demand even outstripped supply.
PETstock Assist charity and events lead, Jessica Curtis, says while it might be easy to put the increase in adoptions down to people spending more time at home, there’s much more to the story.
“It’s clear from the surge in adoption figures that pets have … helped bring joy and purpose to their owner’s lives during a tough year,” Ms Curtis said.
“It is all of these wonderful traits of pets that have a particularly powerful impact on our mental health and why, unsurprisingly, so many of us reached out for an animal companion in 2020.”
But there is a sting in this tale, as experts fear unprecedented levels of pet ownership could lead to an increase in abandoned animals and cruelty cases in coming years.
An RSPCA report showed a five-year high in animal cruelty complaints in the 2019 – 2020 financial year with 73,997 complaints registered, up from 57,982 the year before.
The report also revealed that 3,466 dogs and 9,714 homeless cats were euthanised last financial year, down from 4,308 dogs and 11,740 cats euthanised the year before.
“Those who choose to adopt … play a critical role in reducing the number of animals in need,” Ms Curtis said.
PETstock Assist has helped rehome more than 12,000 animals through its annual National Pet Adoption Day.
The day has been so successful that this year they have launched a ‘National Pet Adoption Month’ for the whole of March.
“After all-time high adoption rates in 2020, this year is truly a celebration of these owners,” Ms Curtis said.
Geelong Obedience Club president, Brendan Jagtenberg, said a key benefit of getting a rescue pet is that you avoid the destructive behaviour that comes with a new one.
“A lot of people want a dog but don’t want all the care and training that a puppy needs, however, if a rescue pet does need training, you can actually teach an old dog new tricks,” he added.
According to Mr Jagtenberg obedience training is as much about teaching the owner as training the pet.
While Mr Jagtenberg said while not all owners can be taught, “dogs are pretty good at picking things up”.
Animal lovers and new pet owners can engage with their local PETstock store and rescue group throughout March for further information on the adoption and fostering process, as well as tips for training and looking after pets.