Removing pet adoption stigma

By Shepparton News

On Friday night I travelled home to my family in Ballarat and was greeted at the door by the light of my mother’s life, our cat, Miss Apple.

She has taken out the favourite daughter award in our family for the past four years.

Unknowingly aware of the impact she would have on our lives, we adopted her from a local foster centre as a fully-grown, very upset, one-year-old who was thought to have been abandoned or living as a stray.

We exchanged her for a small fee and within time she stopped bringing us questionable gifts at the front mat and eventually settled into our home.

Within a few months she had grown copious amounts of fur and turned out to become identical to a Ragdoll, a much sought-after breed, in the cat world.

I may be biased but, besides her beauty, she has a unique manner, personality and years of wisdom.

A real rags to riches story, for both sides.

This week the Victorian Government introduced a Pet Exchange Register which allows people to find out where their new pet has come from.

From Monday, all animals sold or rehomed will need to include a source number linked to a person, breeder, business, rescue group or shelter before being rehomed.

The register aims to give owners peace of mind, knowing that their pet has been bred ethically, and will ultimately help detect illegal puppy farms.

The register comes on the back of last year’s puppy farm legislation that stopped pet shops selling animals unless they were from a shelter, pound or foster carer.

This step has been vital for the rehoming of hundreds of displaced animals.

However, recently I was surprised to hear a close friend of mine say she was looking to buy a dog but said she would never adopt because they were all...

She stopped, made a weird face and described the animals in shelters as if they were locked away for committing crimes.

But this wasn’t the first time I had become annoyed by ignorances when it came to adopting an animal.

A friend of mine paid over $2000 for a Golden Retriever and, in the past two years, my best friend purchased two dogs from breeders for unthinkable amounts, for a breed that often pops up on the rehoming profiles I follow on my Instagram and Facebook.

Why is there this stigma around adopting animals?

I often think how many personalities like Miss Apple’s are being wasted on the concrete floors in pounds or being cut short because of peoples’ superior thoughts?

The latest figures produced by the Shepparton Animal Shelter revealed that during 2016-17, more than 600 dogs and over 1000 cats were impounded at our local shelter.

From that, 77 dogs and 375 cats were euthanased.

These figures are disturbing as we are only looking at the issue at a local level.

I understand people may want a particular breed, but there are so many diverse breeds through adoption. Futhermore, if you are looking for a particular breed there are now rescue centres dedicated to popular and particularly sought-after animals.

In a short search I found pure-bred Labradoodles, Dachshunds, Beagles, Bulldogs, Spaniels and Golden Retrievers all needing new homes.

So why are people still not adopting?

Another great thing about adopting animals is that many rescue centres offer trial periods before going through with the actual adoption.

This gives people the opportunity to see if the animal is right for them.

I want my friends to reconsider their thoughts about the idea of adopting, however I am more than certain that my friends aren’t the only ones in the community who need to change their views.

The money spent on buying animals could do extraordinary things to thousands of animals’ lives.

I believe that if you wait, look and research you will be able to adopt the exact animal you are looking for.

And isn’t waiting, looking, and researching three key components of responsible pet ownership?

Morgan Dyer is a reporter at The News.