Every year, Australian refuges take in many tens of thousands of animals. The RSPCA alone estimates it receives more than 130,000 animals annually. These unwanted, stray or injured cats and dogs all need new homes, so if you’re thinking of becoming a pet owner, or adding to your menagerie, your local animal refuge or shelter is the perfect place to pick up a pet.
The animals that go through the refuge system are checked thoroughly for medical issues and temperament, so you can be assured you are getting a loving, healthy animal. But there are a few things to consider before heading down to pick up a new family member:
- If you are renting, do you have permission from your landlord or property manager to keep a pet (you’ll need to take any documentation showing this to the refuge when you go)? Also consider that a pet will be with you for years – how confident are you that the landlords of future homes will allow you to keep a pet?
- If you own your home, the refuge might want to see evidence of this, such as a rates notice.
- If you have small children and other pets, take them with you to the refuge to meet the potential new family member.
- Many shelters ask you to fill out a questionnaire before adopting – you should be able to download this from the shelter’s website.
- How settled are you? If your situation means you might be moving out of the region, are you confident you’ll be able to take your pet with you?
- Take a look at your property – is it well fenced and secure and is it large enough for a pet?
- Do you have any allergies to pets?
- Do you have time to exercise, train and play with a pet?
- Can you afford a pet? It’s a good idea to budget $300 to $500 a month on things like food, worming, pet insurance and vet bills. If you adopt a young or particularly active pet, you might unfortunately have extra bills – many pet owners have had to replace chewed furniture, fix broken doors or paint walls thanks to their active pets.
If you’re happy that you can spend the energy and money on a new family member, it’s time to visit your local refuges and choose a new pet. The staff will be able to advise you on the best one for you and your family.