‘It’s not a photo opportunity’: adopting a pet is hard work, Victorian shelters warn as returns surge

adopting pets
Maggie Davies

New owners urged to reach out for help instead of giving up – or consider fostering first.

The Guardian reports that the past year has seen a large increase in the number of people returning adopted pets to shelters in Victoria, some after only hours with their new animal.

The number of people returning adopted pets to the Lost Dogs Home in Victoria has surged by 67% in the past year.

Koi, a seven-year-old male labrador, was returned to the Melbourne shelter one day after being adopted into a new family. He had been surrendered for adoption to the shelter in Cranbourne this year after his owner died.

“He spent a lot of time vocalising, barking, whining and being a bit unsettled, so the people that had adopted him couldn’t cope and returned him 24 hours after they took him home,” said the shelter’s supervisor, Allie Small.

Koi is one of many pets returned to Lost Dog Home shelters in North Melbourne and Cranbourne.

The number of adopted pets returned by their new owners rose by a third in a month, after a 30% increase between June and July. While 481 pets were adopted in July, 30 pets were returned, some within hours, days or weeks of being adopted.

The number of people inquiring online about how to surrender their pets also grew, by 46%.

Small said she was seeing a lot of animals returned within 24 to 72 hours because people did not know how to cope with their new pet’s behaviour.

“Instead of reaching out to us and trying to get some assistance, and get some advice from our behaviour team or our veterinary team, they’re just kind of giving up,” she said.

The data showed the amount of people inquiring about how to access pet behaviour training has fallen by half.

Small said many people were adopting animals after seeing friends or family with new pets, without realising they were not ready for the challenge.

“They’re not taking into consideration the amount of time and effort it takes to integrate a new animal into your home,” she said. “Adopting a pet can be exciting, it can be fun, but it’s not a game. It’s not a social media photo opportunity. “It’s a lifetime commitment and one we expect people to honour. If you are having trouble with your pet there is help. Just reach out.”

It could take between three weeks and three months to settle a rescue pet into a new home, Small said. “That’s three weeks to three months of really hard work to make sure that your animal understands its new routine.

You fit the animal into your lifestyle but you’re still meeting the needs of the animal – it requires quite a big change for everyone.”

As for Koi, Small said he would be placed into a foster home “to give him the time that he needs to learn how to be in a home”.

She encouraged people thinking about adopting pets to consider fostering an animal first.

(Story source: The Guardian)

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