25 August 2021

In need of a furry lockdown buddy? The RSPCA has your back

| Lottie Twyford
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RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson with a cat

RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson says the organisation has COVID-19-safe processes in place to facilitate animal adoption. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

After briefly shutting to the public last week due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the RSPCA is again able to facilitate pet adoptions and help you find a furry, scaly or hairy new buddy.

The new process requires potential pet mums and dads to apply online before actually visiting the shelter in Weston and seeing the animals.

RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson explains that the model has been implemented to ensure the safety of staff, visitors and animals.

With 154 animals currently in care, new furry faces are being added to the online database everyday.

And just like during the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown, there’s been massive community interest in adopting animals.

With so many Canberrans stuck at home, Michelle wants to remind people in quarantine to do what they can to ensure their dogs, who might be missing their walks, get some exercise – whether it’s playing fetch or tug around the house, or building an obstacle course.

“Or Google ‘snuffle mats’ – I promise you won’t regret it,” she laughs.

Applications under the new process opened on Friday, 20 August, and Michelle says in the first three days, more than 70 people expressed their interest in a new pet.

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“We are asking for a little bit of patience at this time as we work to process these applications,” she says.

“It’s a completely new process for us, and while it will mean we aren’t able to adopt out as many animals as usual, we are still doing what we can.”

In the first two days of the new system, eight animals were adopted out – a result that pleases Michelle as “that’s eight animals who have found a home”.

With lots of people interested in adopting, Michelle urges them to take their time and consider whether they are really well equipped to care for them for their whole life.

“When you adopt or buy an animal, the intent should be that it’s for the life of that animal,” she says. “It’s not a decision that should be taken lightly. It’s a commitment.

“If you can’t make that commitment and you love animals, I would encourage you to do something such as volunteering or fostering because you can still benefit and you still have something to give.”

It’s also imperative that animals currently in the shelter are adopted out because the RSPCA has an ever-growing surrender waitlist for cats and dogs, which Michelle is concerned about.

“We need to make space here so we can start taking in more animals who need it,” she says.

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If you’re thinking of adopting an animal from the RSPCA, you’re asked to look online to find one that interests you, select the appropriate page, and then read and complete an application form.

“You can read all about it, have a think if it interests you, and then go ahead with the application form,” explains Michelle.

From there, it’s up to the RSPCA team to work through the application and determine if the animal is likely to be a good match.

Part of this will likely include a telephone or Zoom consultation.

“We want to bring it to the point where the prospective adopter and ourselves are pretty much 90 per cent sure it is a good match,” says Michelle.

“All the paperwork and forms needs to be completed, and only then will the prospective adopter come to the shelter where we have a very quick meet-and-greet outside in the open air – contactless to make sure everybody is safe.

“Then, off you go! Hopefully with a new member of your family alongside you.”

When visitors arrive at the shelter, they are asked to sanitise their hands before having any interaction with animals or RSPCA staff. Any visitors who are visibly unwell with cold or flu-type symptoms will not be permitted entry to RSPCA facilities.

Applications are now essential for all adoptions through RSPCA ACT. Head to the Adopt a Pet page to find animals available for adoption.

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