If you've been looking to get yourself a furry friend but aren't sure what to do due to animal shelter closures amid coronavirus restrictions, you're in a for a treat. RSPCA NSW has launched an online animal adoption process to ease your journey to becoming a pet owner from the comfort of your home. Here's everything you need to know.
With more of us working from home and practicing social distancing, the days can get lonely and boring. The yearning to adopt a pet has been strong among many Australians for this reason, and the number of pet owners has drastically increased since the breakout of the pandemic.
RSPCA NSW spokesperson, Kieran Watson, told Lifehacker Australia that when the outbreak first happened, they saw a lot of people coming into the shelter, seeking companionship.
"It's always heartwarming to see when more and more people come in to adopt as our mission is obviously to get every animal out of our care and into a loving home," Watson said.
"However, when the restrictions came in, we couldn't have a mass of people rocking up everyday, especially if we wanted to adhere to social distancing measures. So, we decided to move our entire adoption process online."
Watson said despite transitioning to an entirely online system, they haven't seen a downturn in the adoption process. Overall, RSPCA NSW has had a 30% increase in completed adoptions compared to 2019. They still have a lot more people expressing interest and their applications are in the early stages.
How can you adopt a pet through RSPCA NSW?
In order to protect the community and give every animal a chance to be adopted, you have to go to RSPCA NSW's website and browse the list of animals that are up for adoption.
If you find one that is of interest to you, fill out this expression of interest to adopt form online and hit submit. You will usually receive a callback within 48 hours.
"When we call, we'll ask the prospective owner to talk about their lifestyle. If they've shown interest in a dog who needs to be really active, we have to make sure the person is suited to meet the dog's needs. We'll ask them what their daily routine is, whether they have a big backyard, and so on. It's a very thorough process and we'll work with them to find them the right pet," Watson explained.
If approved for adoption, a team member from RSPCA NSW will transport the animal (a $40 charge outside the regular adoption fee applies) outside its new home for a 'meet and greet' and to finalise the adoption. The organisation assures all physical distancing measures are adhered to during this process.
"For us the online process is good because every animal has a chance of being adopted, but there's also an extra level of screening involved via the online forms [instead of the usual walk-in process prior to closures] so that we can find an animal the right home more efficiently."
All the animals in RSPCA NSW's shelters are desexed, vaccinated, microchipped and behaviourally and medically assessed.
Cats are in high demand
Watson explained that cats across their shelters were in high demand as they fit into most households, whether it's a farm or a one-bedroom apartment in the city.
"Pocket pets like rabbits have also been adopted a lot more, especially prior to Easter. But it's mostly cat adoptions that have exploded — they seem to be the go-to pet that people seem to be wanting the most at this time," Watson said.
Make sure you're ready for a pet, beyond the days of self-isolation
Although RSPCA NSW wants every animal they have to find a forever home, the organisation does its best to ensure that prospective pet owners aren't only adopting because they're stuck at home. It also tries to ensure that people can afford to take care of the cat or dog or rabbit they're planning to adopt.
RSPCA NSW has received a few inquiries about people wanting to know if it had seen an increase in surrenders and in a nutshell, the answer is no. In fact, week 13 of 2020 i.e. 23-29 March only saw 68 surrenders compared to 168 in 2019.
"Although surrenders are actually down at the moment, we're not sure what that might look like in the future. When we've taken in surrenders we ask the person, what's the reason for returning the animal? And so far, the increasing answer has been that they've had to give up their pet due to financial concerns," Watson said.
In case a person isn't ready for a long-term commitment, RSPCA NSW is also accepting applications for foster carers due to the influx of animals coming into its shelters.
For more details about adopting, head to the RSPCA NSW website.
How to adopt animals from RSPCA in other states
If you're not a resident of New South Wales, we advise you to visit the relevant RSPCA website for your location. For example, RSPCA Queensland is currently trialing virtual adoptions, whereas RSPCA South Australia requires prospective pet owners to go online and make an appointment to visit its Lonsdale shelter or RSPCA PetVille.
New restrictions announced across Australian states and territories have changed daily routines for millions around the country. While some measures are clear, a number of us still aren't sure exactly what we can and can't do in the times of coronavirus.