Homelessness, hardship cause for pet surrenders in central Victoria

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Housing issues and financial hardship are among the top reasons central Victorians are surrendering their pets. 

Of the 3627 dogs and cats handed in to RSPCA Victoria in the past financial year, 135 were from Greater Bendigo. 

More than half of the animals from our region were surrendered because of the circumstances of their owners. 

Forty-two animals – about 31 per cent – were given up because of housing issues such as homelessness, relocation, or homes unsuitable for keeping pets. 

Fifteen animals – 11 per cent – were surrendered because their owners could not afford to feed their pets or provide basic vet care, the RSPCA said. 

Four cats, five dogs and four puppies were handed over after their owner died or became too ill to care for them. 

Six pets were surrendered because their owners did not have enough time to meet their needs. 

Most of the animals given up in Greater Bendigo in 2015-16 were canines, with 65 dogs and six puppies. 

The RSPCA received 45 cats and 19 kittens.

The trends in Greater Bendigo were consistent with those of the rest of the state.

Housing was the motivating factor in 21 per cent of surrenders in Victoria, with 40 owners facing homelessness or other crises.

About 10 per cent could not afford to keep their pets.

Ill health or death was the reason for almost 10 per cent of surrenders statewide. 

Insufficient time accounted for 6.4 per cent of pets being given up, and too many animals 5.6 per cent. 

The birth of a baby and relationship breakdown accounted for about 1 per cent each. 

Haven; Home, Safe chief executive officer Ken Marchingo said he had no doubt there were some members of the community who were forced to make difficult decisions about keeping a beloved pet because of their circumstances.

“We have, in the past, offered to pay for kennels,” he said.

“Sometimes the family pet is an important part of the salvaging a family’s situation.”

Other times, given the choice between affordable housing and keeping their pet, people felt they had no option but to surrender.

Rescue pets not damaged goods

RSPCA Victoria chief executive officer Liz Walker said pet surrender statistics busted the myth rescue pets were “damaged goods.”

“Just 9.5 per cent of owners who brought their dogs and cats to us for rehoming said that problem behaviours – such as barking, aggression, destructiveness, chasing or inappropriate toileting – were the reason,” she said. 

A further 1.2 per cent said the animal’s health was the main reason for their surrender.

“Almost all of these dogs and cats have been the beloved companions of people who could no longer care for them the way all animals should be cared for,” Dr Walker said. 

“Those people have done the right thing in bringing their pets to us, in the hope we can find new owners to love them and meet their needs.” 

One in 10 people gave no reason for surrendering their pets.

To find out more about adopting a pet in regional Victoria, click here

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