On-and-off lockdowns and social interaction restrictions have caused a sharp rise in pet adoptions across New Zealand. However, pandemic pressure has also forced many Kiwis to give up pets for adoption – this is the lesser-known story.
It’s not all bad news, and you might just be able to play a part in building the silver lining. Let’s look at some of the reasons New Zealanders give up pets for adoption and what you can do to help.
Why do we give up pets for adoption?
Local animal shelter HUHA (Helping You Help Animals) confirms that more owners are giving up pets due to hardships in today’s stressful times. CEO Carolyn Press McKenzie explains that financial pressures and mental wellness are some of the societal changes causing the pet surrenders.
She explains, “We’ve seen a return of both older and new pets as a result of various unfortunate circumstances such as droughts, floods, divorces and other scenarios. We’re also seeing it where Kiwis need to move into a rental where no pets are allowed.”
Adopt a pet, don’t shop
Animal shelters are overburdened with the high number of animals in need of new homes. As a result, some are forced to euthanise pets to cope with overpopulation. Those of us thinking of first time pet ownership can play a significant role in helping the situation.
Sure, if you’re looking for a purebred dog, it makes sense to go with one of NZ’s ethical breeders – but there’s always the option to adopt. Press McKenzie encourages would-be adoptive pet parents with this message:
“We want to encourage those thinking of getting a pet to consider adopting instead of buying. Taking in a pet from an animal shelter or even from a relative or friend means a happy home for the animal and reduced pressure on rescue and rehome services.”
PD Insurance chief operating officer Michelle Le Long says adopting is an animal welfare approach to pet ownership. She explains that “animal shelters are almost always under pressure with the large number of stray cats and dogs. And then there’s those who’ve been abandoned or ill-treated by their owners. In adopting, you’re doing so much for animal welfare.”
Pet adoption NZ – variety of choice
People often think of pet adoption as providing limited options, however, shelters have big and small, young and old ready for the love of a new owner. Yes, you’ll find grown up dogs and cats with well developed habits and personalities (which might just suit yours). And yes you’ll find mixed breed moggies and doggies.
In many shelters, you’ll find kittens, puppies and purebred cats and dogs alike. Time to take a look around?
So while some are having to give up pets for adoption, at the same time there are those of us looking for a pet. If you’re one of them, who knows, that special furball could be waiting at a shelter, hoping to become your best friend.
It’s a good idea to research the traits and characteristics of your adoptive pet’s predominant breed.
Why? A German Shepherd or Border Collie needs wayyy more exercise than, a pug for example. And did you know the Beagle is often put up for adoption after being used in animal testing? They make loyal even-tempered pets, but can be a little curious to the point of being naughty.
As you can see, different breeds have particular leanings and Le Long adds, “you’ll get tremendously useful insights that will help fast track progress with your new dog or cat.”
“Selective breeding over hundreds of years means each breed broadly behaves in a predictable way, unless they’ve had a really tough life. Knowing these traits means you can guide and recognise progress in your pet.”
When people give up pets for adoption, often the breed isn’t known or that information isn’t passed on. If the shelter doesn’t know, and neither you nor a vet can make an educated guess about your pet’s breed/s, there’s always a dog DNA test. It’s hard to say whether these are 100% accurate, but they can be fun and informative.
Planning first steps
When adopting a pet, it’s important to take some time to plan. Your new pet can come to you with all sorts of behaviours which will become your responsibility as the new parent. Just like people, however, your pet can unlearn these behaviours and begin to love and be loved again. Press McKenzie says:
“Like adopting a human baby, there are strategies, measures and techniques which will help you and your new best friend make the most of the process, setting the scene for a long and mutually rewarding relationship,”
You might need to make plenty of training time in your schedule. Or look up a good puppy school, behaviourist or trainer. Le Long explains “You’re effectively looking for a reset, where you encourage your new charge to feel welcome, loved and looked after. Patience is a virtue here; your task is building trust between you and your new pet.”
Adopt a pet need-to-knows
We’ve compiled several articles to make the process of finding and adopting your furry BFF that much easier. And for those who can’t adopt yet want to make a difference, there’s also information on animal fostering.
Here are your guides for pet adoption:
- Bringing home an adopted dog
- Adopt a cat
- 5 things new kitten parents need to know
- Retired Greyhound adoption in New Zealand
- How to find the perfect family pet
- Foster a dog or cat in New Zealand
And if you’re one of the people who’ve been pressured to give up pets for adoption in these uncertain times, we’re wearing our hearts on our sleeves for you and your pet.
Rebuilding trust in an adopted pet
Pets are highly intuitive and tend to take their emotional cues from us. If you remain calm (or panic), they do too. These tips will help with integrating your adopted pet into your heart and home:
- Positive reinforcement for dog training. Reward based training yields happier, longer lasting results.
- Establish a routine. Like you or I, pets respond well to the security of knowing when mealtimes, walkies/playtime and bedtime will happen. This is important for any pet, but especially when people give up pets for adoption. These animals have had to learn to be away from home and need to learn the meaning of home all over again.
- Socialising other pets. Take introductions slowly, read puppy and cat introduction and introducing your kitten and cat.
- Bonding time. Allow for bonding time with your pet by ensuring you have routine playtime and downtime together.
- Give your pet a den. Make sure your pet has a space to call their own, with bedding and toys etc. Read about crate training a puppy as this can provide them a safe space they can retreat to.
- Stock up. Be sure to get your pet’s supplies before you bring them home. Litter boxes and litter, food bowls, and food, toys and more. Read about cat litter box training and toilet training your puppy if needs be!
- Keep cats home for two weeks. It’s a good idea to keep your cat indoors for the first couple of weeks while they settle in. Then they’re less likely to stray and get lost.
- Pet insurance. Give your furkid a soft landing with cat insurance or dog insurance. Wondering how expensive is pet insurance really? Then here’s an article that’s busting the top 5 pet insurance myths.
Pet insurance is kind to pet and your pocket
When your pet gets into a scratch or a scrape, the last thing you want is to have to worry about whether you can afford the cost of medical care. Especially when that care could make all the difference. With pet insurance, you won’t have to, because vet visits, hospital care and so much more are part of the plan.
You can even opt for our premium (Deluxe) plan that includes dental cover too, or our wellness package add-on that includes vaccinations, microchipping and more. Find out everything about pet plan shopping in NZ to be sure.