More New Zealanders

putting up pets for adoption during taxing times

With an evolving economic climate and lifestyle changes putting strain on New Zealanders this year, beloved pets are increasingly being given up for adoption. This is confirmed by Helping You Help Animals (HUHA), a leading ‘no-kill’ animal shelter providing shelter and re-homing for less fortunate animals.

According to HUHA CEO Carolyn Press McKenzie, societal shifts brought on by COVID, such as financial pressure and mental wellness issues, are forcing pet owners to give up their fur babies for adoption.

“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,” she says.

Adopt instead of shop

“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.”

Adopting a pet is an animal welfare-conscious approach to starting the pet parenting journey, according to Michelle Le Long, Chief Operating Officer at pet insurance provider “Animal shelters are almost always under pressure with the large number of stray cats and dogs plus those which have been abandoned or ill-treated by their owners. When you adopt, you’re doing so much for animal welfare.”

“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,” says Press McKenzie.

It is a sad reality that an adopted pet’s life prior to joining yours was quite possibly stressful and unpleasant. Just as it is with humans, the past influences your new pet’s behaviour and nature. A dog might be overly timid, inappropriately aggressive, fearful, and lack trust.

Consider your first steps carefully

The first steps of adoption are therefore important, says Le Long. “You’re effectively looking for a reset, where your new charge is made to feel welcome, loved and looked after. Patience is a virtue here; your task is building trust between you and your new pet.”

She strongly recommends researching the traits and characteristics of the predominant breed of your adoptee. “You will get enormously useful insights that help fast track progress with your pet. 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.”

Beagles, for example, are friendly, loyal, gentle and even-tempered. One of the more commonly ‘available for adoption’ breeds because they are widely used in animal testing, beagles are also wilful, playful and inquisitive to the point of being naughty. “Knowing these things means you’re aware of where your pet needs to get to,” comments Le Long.

Rebuilding trust in a rehomed shelter pet

Pets tend to take their emotional cues from those around them. Being calm and measured, acting slowly and steadily, and avoiding excessive stimulation is a good idea. Particularly with dogs, a firm hand and ready treats go a long way.

If house training is necessary, approach it with a combination of firm directing and generous rewards for doing the right thing. Above all, avoid ‘flying off the handle’ in the event of accidents; your pet has had a tough life and progress might take some time. You don’t want to regress by reminding them of the past.

Take it slowly and steadily – again, avoiding excessive stimulation; throwing a major party days after a new dogs or cat joins the family is a big no-no. “Getting into a routine of regular play and exercise establishes groundwork and gives your pet room for their personality to emerge,” says Le Long.

Provide your new charge with a comfy place of his or her own, along with plenty of quality food and clean water. Allow space for them to get plenty of down-time; dogs are diurnal and cats nocturnal, so be aware that dogs sleep when you do, while cats are more active after sundown.

With a cat, it is generally necessary to keep the pet indoors for around two weeks to prevent straying. Be sure to provide a litter box, so any mess is contained – and note that a nervous feline in a new and unfamiliar environment might not ‘go’ for several days. No need to be concerned!

Bonding time is crucial. Ensure you spend as much relaxed, easy, quiet time with just the two of you. “This applies to cats and dogs equally, although canines are more dependent creatures. As the bond forms, move towards gentle play and grooming, always taking care to be gentle but firm,” Le Long adds.

Finally, if your new pet is joining a family with existing pets, take extra care so the new arrival doesn’t upset the routine, attention and affection expected by the menagerie. “It’s best to bring the adopted pet into existing routines, taking care in socialising the newbie with the rest of the gang,” says Le Long.

As a provider of pet insurance from as little as a dollar a day, advises all pet parents to consider cover for their fur kids. Whether prompted by an accident or illness, or part of routine pet care, veterinary treatment is part of responsible pet parenting and it can be unexpected and costly.


Media contact

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