Coronavirus restrictions lead to increased demand

Australians buy thousands of pets every week as devastating lockdowns encourage us to seek additional support from furry companions.

One of Australia’s largest animal welfare charities, PetRescue, says Australians started buying pets en masse from the start of the pandemic and the trend has shown no signs of slowing down.

“We’re actually seeing a lot of interest in pet adoption – it hasn’t waned,” said PetRescue co-founder Vickie Davy. The New Daily.

“We see that in the last three months we have had 4,000 all adopted dogs and 10,000 all adopted cats.”

New South Wales in particular is going through a pet adoption frenzy: the number of pets adopted since July 26 is up 15.7% from the previous three months and the total number demand is up 54.5%.

More time spent at home encourages us to buy more pets. Photo: Getty

With many states yoyoing in and out of the lockdown, Australians are spending more time at home and walking their neighborhoods more regularly.

This resulted in a record number of animals adopted during the pandemic.

Before COVID-19, PetRescue would have an average of 9,000 to 10,000 pets registered for adoption at any one time. But that number now hovers between 4,000 and 5,000, as animals find new owners much faster.

Animals spend an average of 16 days with PetRescue before finding a new home, and some animals, including small dogs and puppies, receive hundreds of requests.

“One of the things about the lockdown is that it makes people reevaluate their lives and look at what’s important,” Ms. Davy said.

“I think it was done with pets. People who always wanted a dog but were waiting for the right time said to themselves: “Why wait, why not now”.

Financial stress behind buyouts

Amid skyrocketing demand for puppies, some shelters have seen an increase in animal surrenders, prompting some welfare groups to warn prospective pet owners to think about life after the lockdown before adopt a new pet.

But RSPCA statistics released exclusively for The new daily reveal that the biggest reason people gave up their pets this year – unlike in previous years – is financial stress.

Between the start of this year and the end of April, 1,540 pets were turned over to the RSPCA, with 24% of people saying they did so because they could not afford basic care.

Next came 12% of people who said they had too many pets, 8% who said it was because they had to move, and 7% who checked a box labeled “other”.

Another 6% said the reason they returned their pet was because they couldn’t provide veterinary treatment.

This was a huge turnaround from 2019, when most (20%) pets were returned because people had too many pets.

And contrary to recent reports, data from the RSPCA suggests fewer pets were returned in 2020 than in 2019.

In 2020, 4,131 pets were donated to the RSPCA across the country, up from 4,876 in 2019.

Ms Davy said the idea that people irresponsibly adopted an animal during the pandemic and turned it over now was simply ‘not true’.

“The idea that all pets are thrown out, that just doesn’t happen,” she said.

But PetRescue has seen an increase in the number of people reaching out to them for financial help or advice.

“One of our relief groups is making food packages for people. They are currently preparing 3000 meals a week for an area of ​​Melbourne, ”Ms. Davy said.

She said those people who were forced to return their pets found it extremely difficult.

“When that happens, people are devastated. They are losing a family member, ”Ms. Davy said.

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