Over the years, countless millions of words have been written about pets and the difference they can make in your lives. How they become a focus for your love and affection, become part of the family, provide stress relief, entertainment and loads of unconditional love.
All over the world, people read these feel-good stories, and watch cute pet compilation videos and go out and buy themselves a puppy or a kitten from a (hopefully) reputable breeder. Often they spend hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in the process and are happy to wait a considerable amount of time until a suitable animal becomes available.
But what if we told you there was another way? That right now, as you read this, there are literally thousands of dogs and cats of all ages dying to find their forever home and all too often, dying because they can’t.
We are of course talking about adopting.
This article is in no way intended to disparage breeders and the people who buy from them. It is merely to point out that there are thousands of pooches and felines in shelters, just waiting to be a part of your life and home. Animals that have ended up there, not through any fault of their own, but because their pawrents were unable (or unwilling) to keep them.
So, before you set your heart on a purebred, come with us for a minute as we take you into the heart-warming and sometimes heartbreaking story of pet rescue.
BAD LUCK NOT BAD PETS
The first thing to do is dispel the myth that these animals are in shelters because they did something wrong, they are broken in some way or because they have some sort of inherent personality flaw.
This commonly held misconception is hugely damaging to the work done by rescue shelters and is made all the more tragic because of its complete lack of truth.
“People surrender their dogs for many reasons - many due to a change in circumstances. These range from moving house or state, getting divorced, getting sick, having a baby, not training their dog and then giving up when it not behaving the way they want.”
Katy King - Stafford Rescue
Sometimes pets are surrendered for no other reason than because the owners don’t want them - a sad testament to our ‘disposable’ mentality.
There’s always a myriad of reasons, and the people who work at animal shelters have heard ‘em all. And in almost every instance, the unfortunate animal is a victim of circumstances, a casualty of human failings rather than their own.
The sad truth is that animal shelters and rescues are full of healthy pets just waiting for someone to take them home. Most of these animals have a lot of love to give. They just need someone to give it to and most importantly, to get it back from.
In addition, many of the senior pets are already house-trained, good around families, and content to fit into whatever type of home you have for them.
“Adopting an older dog out of foster care is like adopting a plug and play member of the family. It's trained and ready to go!”
Carey Edwards, Director Australian Working Dog Rescue
DON’T JUST SAVE MONEY. SAVE A LIFE.
Each year, it's estimated that more than over 200,000 dogs and cats are euthanised in Australia, simply because too many pets come into shelters and too few people consider adoption when looking for a pet.
This number could be significantly reduced simply by us changing our habits and looking at things from a different perspective.
No animal is more deserving of a furever home than a rescue dog or cat. They just need to be given a second chance.
It’s also worth considering that rescue animals sell for considerably less than their purebred counterparts. Often for as little as $300-400. A pretty sizeable saving when you think that many purebred puppies sell for anywhere between $3000 - $10,000.
But the financial saving pales into insignificance when you realise that you are also saving a life. A dog or a cat that could possibly end up being put down, simply because nowhere could be found to put them up.
The karmic rewards continue. Not only are you saving a life, but you are creating space in the rescue shelter for another animal that needs it. So, in effect, you are saving two lives.
HELP A PET HELP YOU
Getting a pet is scientifically proven to benefit your health and state of mind. Animals love you unconditionally and have been shown to be psychologically, emotionally and physically beneficial to their hoomans. Caring for a pet can also provide a sense of purpose and fulfilment and lessen feelings of loneliness.
So, if you feel this good from getting a pet, imagine how you are going to feel when you adopt one. When you know that you have helped an animal in need, given it a fresh start and possibly saved it from being put down. That’s next level contentment, right there!
PLENTY TO CHEWSE FROM
Rescue shelters often have a surprisingly large and diverse range of animals for you to pick from. Different breeds, sizes, colours, temperaments and ages. There’s even purebreds for the very pet-icular. And of course, there’s loads of crossbreeds, mutts, mixed breeds or whatever you like to call them. All adorable, and all looking for that furever home.
Talking of crossbreeds, it seems that you get more than your money’s worth when you buy a mixed breed. The “hybrid vigour” principle suggests that a mixed breed animal is likely to live longer and cost less in vet bills than a purebred. Who’d a thunk it?
KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING
When you buy a pet from a pet store or online, that animal is quite often a complete unknown. So, effectively, you are buying it at face value. And if something goes wrong, well, you are pretty much on your own.
But when you adopt, especially from a rescue group or shelter, you know what you are getting because they will have a history on the animal and some behavioural guides drawn from personal observations.
They will also be able to help you through the familiarisation period because, just like you, they are really wanting to find the purrfect fit both for the pet and you.
LOOKING TO ADOPT? HERE’S SOME HELPFUL TIPS
“Remember everyone in rescue is a volunteer with their own lives, jobs and everything else to balance, so be kind and respectful of their time. We understand it’s a difficult and frustrating time to adopt, but we will help you find the perfect companion for your family!”
Amy Field - The Kitten Sanctuary
Know before you go: Do your research and work out what kind of pet fits in best with your lifestyle. Look at the different breeds and see which one has the ideal pawsonality.
Pick an organisation(s) you want to adopt from: Communicate with them regularly and check what they have on their books.
Be honest and upfront: Find the animal that is going to be the best fit for you, even if it means waiting awhile or having to shop around other shelters. Better to take your time and get it right, than go home with a pet that’s not necessarily right for you.
Think ahead: This pet is going to be with you for the rest of its life. It won’t magically disappear once Covid ends and you go back to your normal life. So, think of it as another child whose life is entirely in your hands for the next 15 years. Are you up to the task?
Think about fostering: If you are unsure about making a lifetime commitment to a pet, then look at fostering first. This gives you the chance to own an animal for a short time without the responsibility of long-term ownership.
Make sure you know all about the animal you are getting. Most shelters have detailed paperwork and notes on the pets in their care, and this can help ensure you go home with an animal that will fit seamlessly into your home and your lifestyle.
Think about a companion for the animal: If you are adopting a single animal then remember that they can sometimes get lonely and act up. Some of them may have been used to being with another pet and find it hard to adapt to life as a solo pooch or kitty.
Maybe you already have a pet dog or cat. If so, then how will they react to the newcomer and vice versa?
Remember, the more planning you do upfront, the more likely you are to land yourself the pawfect pet.
Give them a chance: Imagine you were going to live in a new home. You’d be nervous, a bit disorientated and take a little while to find your paws. Well, the same goes for them.
Just show them a bit of love, kindness and patience, and watch how quickly they settle in and start loving you in return.
WHERE TO ADOPT
You can find lots of great places to adopt or foster a pet on Google - we've put together a few of our furvourites below.
Save a Pet Foundation - cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs and more
Pound Paws - cats, dogs, birds
Petbarn Adoption - dogs and cats
Pet Rescue - all pets
RSPCA Adopt a pet - all pets
Maggie's Rescue - cats and dogs
Monika's Rescues - all pets
Greyhound Rescue - greyhounds
S.A.F.E Rehoming - all pets
Animals Welfare League NSW - all pets
Greyhounds as Pets - greyhounds
Sydney Dogs and Cats Home - dogs, cats and rabbits
The Kitten Sanctuary - cats
A Mini Rescue Brisbane - all pets
Best Friends Rescue - dogs
Victorian Dog Rescue and Resource - dogs and cats
Stafford Rescue Victoria - dogs (specifically staffies)
Paws & Claws Adoption - all pets
Sahara Rescue and Rehoming - cats, dogs and rabbits
Dogs' Homes of Tasmania - dogs
Greyhounds as Pets - greyhounds