Adoption Surge to Pet Surrendering: Post-Pandemic Shelter Numbers Rise

From an exciting spike in adoptions… to a disappointing spike in strays. As restrictions ease and work-life slowly returns to normality, there are concerns with mass unwanted pets returning to pre-pandemic figures. Financial hardship is currently the most common reason for pet surrendering and the number is rising with some shelters struggling to cope with the sudden rise in lost pets and strays. Owners may also be unable to cope with juggling the challenges or time constraints of returning back to work, or not be accustomed to the needs of a new pet such as fencing required or designated time needed for daily walks and play.

Amidst the stress, feelings of disconnection and a world facing unknown isolation periods, it comes as no surprise that pet adoptions skyrocketed through Autumn. Who wouldn’t want a loyal lockdown buddy to ease their fears and provide some much-needed connection, companionship and hope during these crazy times. Early 2020 adoptions hit record highs with many desperate for just that. North Melbourne’s Lost Dogs’ Home rehomed a remarkable 566 animal adoptions during May, having been completely emptied of prospective pets twice. Likewise, Mackay Regional Council’s Animal Management Centre in Queensland fell to their lowest shelter numbers ever. Adoptions and foster inquiries in New South Wales rose 300 percent, an impressive feat that Steve Coleman, the chief executive of animal welfare charity RSPCA NSW, reported to AFP

Now by stark contrast, Sydney Dogs and Cats Home veterinarian Renae Jackson reported to 7News, despite excellent recent record adoption numbers, the amount of shelter admissions has still doubled.

Specifically lost and stray dogs have been on the rise the most, increasing since the end of May and now situated at pre-Covid19 numbers, with some shelters reaching capacity or close again. The spike is comparable to post-Christmas holiday figures where many well-meaning furry gifts are returned by owners unable to care for them or when kittens and puppies lose their novelty value as they grow. While the gesture may have been well-intentioned, our animals deserve prior and thorough thoughtful consideration.

To help reduce lost pets, if returning to work it is strongly advised to ease pets back into the new routine to avoid leaving a confused and devastated furbaby suddenly fending for themselves. Such a sudden change in routine can break their loyal little hearts, causing much distress or more attempts to escape from boredom or anxiety. Other tips include checking the perimeter is secured with adequate fencing; as well as ensuring all cats and dogs are microchipped and have contact details on their collar too.

Other factors to consider, evaluate and research before adopting a pet:

  • Size of house/garden
  • Safe and secure access to indoor and outdoor areas
  • How much free time will be available for a pet post-pandemic
  • Other animals living at the home, specifically territorial pets who may not like to share or may not get on with other animals
  • Young children/babies living at the home
  • Research the type/size of the animal in consideration
  • If long-term realistically isn’t the best option, be responsible in your decision to adopt and consider short-term or alternative options

If able to adopt a pet (for their forever home) local pounds, RSPCA or other animal rescue shelters can assist. If pet companionship is desired but won’t suit lifestyle or commitments long-term, however, there are still plenty of short-term options to benefit both animals and hoomans alike such as fostering, shelter volunteering, dog walking or pet sitting. Consider offering to help an elderly pet owner, relative, or neighbour out. Alternatively, donations of cash, food, or blankets are always welcomed at rescue centres or animal charities. Impulse decisions are best left behind where fur family is concerned. Choose ‘forever’ over ‘just for now’.

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Dr Alex Hynes

Dr Alex Hynes

Veterinarian, Author and Educator with an extraordinary passion for animals, life and veterinary work both as the hospital director of one of Australia’s busiest emergency pet hospitals, Animal Emergency Service in Australia, and as an entrepreneur and media personality.

Dr Alex Hynes

Dr Alex Hynes

Veterinarian, Author and Educator with an extraordinary passion for animals, life and veterinary work both as the hospital director of one of Australia’s busiest emergency pet hospitals, Animal Emergency Service in Australia, and as an entrepreneur and media personality.

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