Adopt or foster

As COVID pets lose their lustre

While many flocked to the comfort of a new pet as the pandemic took hold, the other side of human nature is coming home to roost, with a multitude of those animals now looking for new homes once the novelty wore off.

The cost of pet ownership reared its inevitable head, with inflation pushing that even further in recent months, and the reality of life back at work took hold.

Shelters are overwhelmed with abandoned or neglected animals and calls are going out for pet adoption or even fostering to help find love and hope these precious creatures.

That’s according to Michelle Le Long, Chief Operating Officer at pet insurance specialist PD Insurance ( “It’s unfortunate, but right now our partners at Helping You Help Animals [HUHA] are overwhelmed by huge numbers of unwanted dogs and cats. These animals are in desperate need of caring families, and many animal shelters are under unprecedented pressure with rising costs and limited capacity.”

Fostering a dog or cat or adopting from a shelter is a wonderful – perhaps the best – option for those looking to become a pet parent for the first time, or those adding to their menagerie.”

HUHA’s challenge

In her 36 years in the animal care industry, HUHA founder Carolyn Press-Mackenzie says things have never been so dire. “This year is different. COVID has impacted many people who took on pets for comfort during lockdown, but now for a variety of reasons can no longer care for their furry family. As financial consequences mount, some find they can’t afford a pet.

“Other people are losing their homes or pet-friendly rentals. And in some cases, the return to work means they are no longer willing or able to look after their pets.”

That’s not all. Press Mackenzie says vet shortages are resulting in deferred, delayed or cancelled de-sexing.

She says, “We typically advise de-sexing a new cat or dog when they come into your family. For many, this hasn’t been possible, with high costs or unavailability of vet services putting them off. That means a ton of unwanted litters – which often has incredibly tragic outcomes.”

How you can help

HUHA says pet adoption rather than buying from a breeder is the best way anyone can help alleviate animal suffering and reduce the demand on crucial shelter services.

“This is absolutely the preferred solution; at HUHA we help find the best pet for you, while making sure our animals are placed in suitable homes,” Press Mackenzie advises. She adds that even those looking for pedigree animals or specific breeds should make enquiries. “You may well be surprised. We have many in-demand dogs and cats from pups to grownups, some purebred and some even pedigree. You could just find the right pet for you.”

A second option is fostering a pet, which works much the same way as fostering a child.

However, Press-Mackenzie says this solution has advantages and disadvantages – which should be seen as temporary. “The advantages are that fostering is better than nothing and can add to the quality of life of sheltered animals, while alleviating the pressure on our facilities. And in many cases – including the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquakes – what starts as fostering quite often ends in adoption and a great outcome for pet and new owner.”

Dogs, particularly, tend to attach to one person, which isn’t possible with fostering. And, she adds, fostering can confuse dogs with their ‘pet parent’ coming and going. “The bottom line, though, is that fostering is a contribution that is better by far than nothing.”

HUHA’s fostering programme is closely controlled, adds Press-Mackenzie, in line with its goals of reducing animal harm. “Our basic philosophy is that if a pet is ready for fostering, it is ready for rehoming.”

Those who aren’t in a position to adopt or foster can consider contributing financially. “I recently saw a post from another shelter – not HUHA – saying ’90 dollars in the bank, taking care of 30 animals’. If you can, get down to your local shelter and help out.”

Pet insurance for pets in need

Le Long says the dramatic increase in pets placed in shelters is indicative of a wider problem of affordability and economic pressure. “One of the biggest factors in pet parenting is facing up to the inevitability of vet bills. Some are scheduled, but like children, pets can get sick or injure themselves in accidents. No pet parent should have to weigh up the health of their companion against the cost of medical attention.”

Whether an existing pet parent or one considering adoption, consider pet insurance as essential. Affordable cover is available and covers a range of medical needs from non-routine vet visits and medication to surgery and third-party liability.


Media contact 
Leandri Smith – The Mail Room 
027 365 9003 | [email protected]