Animal adoption centers across Victoria are at a crossroads where there are more pets surrendered in shelters than families looking to adopt.
RSPCA Victoria, the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP), and The Lost Dogs’ Home are among a number of animal return organizations struggling to keep up with the supply of home-seeking animals.
During the pandemic, these organizations have been experiencing record adoption rates as families have sought a furry friend to accompany them through the state’s multiple lockdowns.
But with the cost of living rising, employees returning to the office and a number of other factors, that success has since waned with the RSPCA reporting an increase in the number of pets surrendered since the start of the Christmas season last year.
RSPCA shelters across the state were registering a total of 50 abandoned pets per month at the end of 2021, but that number has tripled since then with shelters housing 150 abandoned pets per month.
Meanwhile, GAP has seen so many abandoned greyhounds in its shelters that it has been calling on dog lovers to consider fostering hounds to relieve stress on the system.
“Frenz (sic), we need your help! We have a lot of intruders looking for their forever homes and nobody wants to adopt them,” Gap said in a Facebook post.
“Our kennels are bursting at the seams with tall boobies (sic) and girls.”
At the beginning of this month, The Lost Dogs home had over 40 canine companions looking for their forever homes while twice as many cats were in his care.
“As we share this update, more than 80 cats are available for adoption or awaiting space at the Adoption Center,” The Lost Dogs home posted to Facebook at the end of June.
“Sadly they are constantly neglected in favor of kittens. While it is wonderful that so many families have opened their homes and hearts to kittens in need, our adult cats deserve a home too.”
Meanwhile, Nadia Peiris, director of animal welfare at RSPCA Victoria, said dogs of all age groups had been handed over.
“(The number of) incoming puppies is absolutely staggering,” she told 9 News.
“During Covid, we may have seen one pup coming in the whole two years. It really shows you the dilemma we are in.”
Additionally, the rate of unreclaimed pets is on the rise, with about a third of dogs brought into RSPCA care, due to loss and abandonment of dogs despite the organization finding the dog’s owner.
“When we call the owner to let him know the dog is at the shelter, we hear people say, ‘Oh, we’d just like to hand over the dog,'” Ms Pierce said.
With adoption rates at pre-Covid levels across some organizations, shelters are doing their best to encourage animal lovers to consider adoption before purchasing their pet from a breeder.
The Lost Dogs’ Home has previously lowered adoption fees, while GAP has started a new campaign where 100 new adopted greyhounds will receive a free pair of tolerant Tall Terriers to keep them warm in the winter.
GAP posted on Facebook: “Starting (tomorrow), all of the next 100 adopted greyhounds are coming with their super cute pair of tall dogs as part of our #longjohnsforlongdogs campaign.”
“An extra nugget of chocolate for those who adopt and who show up in their own long pants!”
The RSPCA will also launch a new adoption campaign in August to entice more animal lovers to consider adoption.
“If anyone is considering adoption, please contact our customer service team and book an appointment to come and see our animals,” Ms Pires said.
“We have a lot of preparation to go home.”
To adopt a pet, each organization has its own adoption processes and fees. Pets are up to date with the latest vaccinations, and are fully checked by the vet.
Each pet also requires its future owner to meet specific criteria based on the pet’s needs, personality and temperament.
For example, not all GAP greyhounds are cat-friendly, while some RSPCA and Lost Dogs pets are not always suitable for a family with young children.
But with so many pets available for adoption, all shelters are committed to finding the perfect match that suits the needs of each individual and animal.
For more information, head over to rspcavic.org, dogshome.com or gap.grv.org.au to find your next companion.
Originally published as Victorian Animal Shelters struggling to keep up with high surrender rates and low adoption rates