7 November 2020

Puppy love continues after COVID-19 surge, says RSPCA

| Michael Weaver
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Michelle Robertson sitting with dog.

RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson said there has been a reduction in the number of animals being put up for adoption since the COVID-19 lockdown. Photo: Supplied.

It seems our affection with animals that surged during the early stages of the COVID-19 lockdown is continuing, according to the RSPCA in Canberra.

RSPCA ACT CEO Michelle Robertson said the puppy love – and love for all pets – is having a flow-on effect throughout the region, with fewer animals being put up for adoption and vets busier than ever with people making sure their new furry friends are keeping healthy.

Following a spike in animal adoptions during March and April, there was concern that some people would be trying to rehome their pets now that people are beginning to return to work. However, Ms Robertson said the number of animals coming into the RSPCA shelter in Canberra has significantly reduced compared to the same time last year.

“From March to August in 2019, we had 1569 animals come into the shelter here, while for the same period this year we have only had 1236 animals,” she told Region Media.

“We’re really happy to see people doing the right thing with their animals, especially while people have been at home.

“It means fewer animals are coming to us as strays, and vets have been run off their feet. Animal welfare groups are being inundated with people wanting to find out about animal socialisation and training.

“It’s been a very good time for animal welfare.”

Tinkerbelle the dog looking up at camera.

Tinkerbelle is a lovely lady looking for a new home from the RSPCA in Canberra. Photo: Supplied.

Dog breeders have also reported a big increase in demand, which has seen some additional measures being taken to address the risk of animals being sold by non-compliant breeders.

In NSW, dedicated inspectors are identifying breeders who fail to comply with animal welfare legislation.

More funding has also been given to the RSPCA to address animal welfare concerns in the industry, which RSPCA NSW CEO Steve Coleman said is a huge win for animal welfare.

The funding will see more frequent and rapid inspections at facilities found to violate animal welfare laws. It will help to give animals rescued from intensive breeding facilities the veterinary care and rehabilitation they need.

“Every day we face the dark side of the animal breeding industry, where profits are put above an animal’s welfare,” said Mr Coleman. “Countless animals come through our doors in appalling condition and suffering from health and behavioural problems.

“This funding will help us double down on cruelty of this nature. The message is loud and clear: it will not be tolerated.”

Ms Robertson said she is concerned of a possible increase in the number of animals being rehomed, but understands that people’s circumstances change and they may no longer be able to look after their pet.

“We try to understand why people need to bring in an animal to be rehomed,” she said. “Sometimes there are little things we can do to make the scenario workable, but sometimes things just change. They may have lost their job or have to move so, of course, we’ll take the animal.

“I was worried when suddenly everyone wanted to get a pet, or get more pets earlier this year. But it’s fantastic that people appear to be doing the right thing.

“For us, it’s not about selling a pet. We always make sure we get the right match for the animal and its new owner.”

READ ALSO RSPCA’s Pets of the Week – August & Tinkerbelle

Ms Robertson said sometimes it’s easier for someone to have a fish or a small bird instead of a cat or dog. Although the RSPCA will be looking for a forever home for the 220 animals currently in the shelter.

“I would love for us to not have to run a shelter because everybody is looking after their animals,” she said. “We’d love it if there was no cruelty or neglect or abandonment of animals. We may be a fair way off that happening, but we’ll definitely take the wins we’re seeing at the moment.”

For more information, visit RSPCA ACT.

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