Last year there were an estimated 6.3 million pet dogs in Australia. 22 311 dogs were surrendered to RSPCA NSW alone.  Of these, 19 809 dogs were lucky to be rehomed and the remaining 2502 dogs were euthanized. The number of surrendered dogs per year in Australia is much higher as we have  many animal shelters throughout the country. An estimate of the  number of dogs and cats that were euthanized in 2021 was around 200 000. This is a shocking statistic that would break the heart of any animal lover.

Record numbers of adoptions occurred during the COVID Lockdowns as people realised that dogs are great company. Unfortunately, dogs were abandoned in greater numbers when people returned to work and normal life after the lockdowns ended.

There are different reasons why dogs are abandoned. Puppies may come from unwanted litters. A female dog may be surrendered because she keeps having litters.  The owner’s living circumstances may have changed.  A property owner may not allow dogs or the home may not have suitable space. There may be no-one to take care of their dog whilst they go travelling or they  may no longer afford to keep their dog or pay for vet bills.  An owner may have ill health, be allergic to dogs or may have died. A dog may bark too much , does not obey commands or can be destructive. It may have shown signs of aggression. A dog may keep escaping or doesn’t get along with the other animals. An owner may not have the time to look after their dog or they just don’t want their dog anymore.

The health and temperament of all rescue animals will  have been thoroughly checked before they are offered  for adoption. The dogs are microchipped, vaccinated, de-sexed , worm and flea treated. The cost to adopt a rescue dog varies between animal shelters. Fees are anywhere between $50 to $500. That's because each animal organization independently determine a cost that will enable them to continue their rescue work.

Matching the right people to the right dog and finding them a loving forever home is the intention of the adoption process. The dog’s welfare is the most important consideration in every adoption.

If you are thinking about adopting a rescue dog it is important to think about what type of dog is right for you and your family. Choosing the right pet is fun, but takes time, planning and research. You need to consider the needs of any dog that comes into your life as well as your needs and how your lifestyle will affect your decision. For example, think about the space you have, the expense to supply food, toys and other items and to pay for vet bills. Consider how long you can spend exercising your dog each day. Think about how long you will be away from home for work and other activities. Consider your options if you travel and cannot take your dog with you. Dogs are social animals and crave love and attention.

Once you have thought about these important considerations it is time to go looking for your best friend! Each dog shelter will publish a photo of dogs up for adoption on their website. Their profile will include their age, breed, background , temperament, food and exercise needs  and any other special needs they may have. They will also specify what type of owner or family that will be the best for the dog.

When you think you have found your special friend  it is time to speak to an adoption assistant at the dog shelter. They will give you further information about the dog’s needs and background. If this  information is acceptable to you and you believe you can support the dog’s needs, then the next step is to complete an application form.

The application form will ask you to supply evidence of your ability to support the dog’s needs. You will be asked  about your experience with dogs, their training and  to explain how you cared for your dog whilst considering the needs of that particular breed.  You will be asked if you have ever cared for a dog with special needs and how you did so. You will need to explain  how your dog will fit into your  lifestyle .  They will ask about the space you have for your dog, where the dog will sleep and where he will spend his awake time. They will ask for photos of your home, backyard and fencing.  They will ask about when and how long you can exercise your dog and how long you can spend with your dog every day. They will ask about your other family members and any other pets you already have or intend to adopt. They will ask you if you have any other information that you can provide about your home, family or earlier experience with dogs that will support your application. Finally, they will ask if there are any other dogs that you are interested in adopting if your first choice is not available or unsuitable.

If your application is approved there are still  a few more steps in the adoption process. The adoption assistant will meet with you and ask you to explain the information you have given in further detail.  If all is good, then  at this point the adoption assistant will be happy to arrange a meet and greet with you at the dog shelter and at your home. Then you will be able to take your special friend home. You will have 24 hours in which you can change your mind and take your dog back to the animal shelter.

If you go ahead with the adoption and things do not work out later down the track , you can surrender the dog to the same place. There may be a Surrender Portal on the dog shelter’s website. The portal will offer information to try to solve the problems you may be facing with your dog. If that fails, then an appointment will be organised so that the staff can assess the situation. You will then fill in a lengthy survey about the dog. After that you will sign the dog over to the dog shelter. The dog will then be vet checked and will undergo a behavioural assessment. If the checks are positive your dog will be  offered for adoption. There is a 24-hour cooling off period where you can take your dog back if you think you have made the wrong decision.

Adopting a rescue dog is a rewarding experience. A life can be saved and you are able to give a dog a second chance of a healthy and happy life. The fees that you pay will support the dog shelter to help other unwanted dogs. By choosing a rescue dog you lower the demand for puppies from  disreputable breeders. You will also help keep the unwanted dog population down. Don’t forget about all the benefits that come from owning a loving and loyal dog. If adopting a rescue animal full time is not an option for you, you may like to consider fostering a rescue dog. That will mean caring for the dog for any length of time whilst they are waiting for a forever home. Or you can volunteer at a dog shelter and help by walking a dog and by giving  them love and affection. Otherwise, you may want to contribute by making a donation to your local dog shelter.




March 03, 2022 — Mary Richardson