‘Just hasn’t happened’: fears ease over animal surrenders


By Jessica Perkins

Fears of a mass surrender of pets to the RSPCA due to the pandemic have eased, with Queensland now well on the road to recovery from the pandemic.

The organisation feared it could see a mass surrender when Queenslanders returned to work.

RSPCA Spokesman Michael Beatty said surrender numbers have remained on par with previous years — if not slightly lower — during COVID-19.

“We were worried that once the restrictions started to ease and people started returning to work, that we’d get a large number of animals returned,” Mr Beatty said.

“But no, that hasn’t happened, which is good news.

“I think you’d certainly get an indication of that happening, but so far it’s not happening.”

RSPCA Queensland animal attendant Charlotte Kennedy and spokesman Michael Beatty with ‘Kitty’ at the RSPCA Brisbane campus in Wacol.

RSPCA Queensland animal attendant Charlotte Kennedy and spokesman Michael Beatty with ‘Kitty’ at the RSPCA Brisbane campus in Wacol. Credit: Jessica Perkins

Mr Beatty said the trend wasn’t exclusive to Queensland.

“It’s true across Australia as well: that that just hasn’t happened yet,” he said.

Mr Beatty said given the flexible nature of the current workplace, pet owners may be less inclined to return their animals for the foreseeable future.

The Animal Welfare League Queensland saw a similar trend.

State rehoming manager Melinda Phipps said the AWLQ also had fewer incoming animals.

“We have also seen a decrease in the number of animals that are getting impounded… (and) an increase in the animals being reclaimed,” Miss Phipps said.

“And surrenders as well; we’ve seen a decrease in surrenders.”

Both organisations saw a spike in adoption and foster enquiries in March, which continued to remain steady over the following months.

Miss Phipps said AWLQ saw a slight increase in surrenders following the initial spike, but these extreme cases were mainly due to behavioural, health and financial issues.

The United States’ Human Animal Bond Research Institute (HABRI) research program director Lindsey Braun said pets have always played a key role in our health and wellness, and the pandemic had reinforced that bond.

“I think it’s really the human animal bond that’s playing a key role in both helping people get through and cope with the pandemic, but also keeping pets and people together,” Mrs Braun said.

“They’re realising that there is this great bond that really helps people cope and supports their mental health and wellness too.”

Mrs Braun said surrender numbers could still increase in coming months, given the economic impact of the pandemic.

You can listen to Jessica Perkins full audio report below.


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