Snack is a 10-year-old long-haired chihuahua. She enjoys sleeping on a comfy pillow, sneaking into the kitchen for stray bits of food, and long walks – but only if she’s in a good mood.
The snack is what adoption centers call an “elderly rescue”. Her owner moved out, leaving her with an older relative who was unable to provide the care she needed, so Snack was turned over to a rescue center. She moved into her new home with a family in Sydney earlier this year.
For people working from home, the lockdown results in long periods of time with no one other than our coffee machines to talk to. As a result, many of us are looking for new ways to bring companionship into our lives.
Older Pets and Elderly Rescues
Breeders, adoption centers and pounds have been inundated with requests since the start of the pandemic. Demand has now exploded again as we face several months of possible lockdowns. Waiting lists for puppies and kittens go on for months and many breeders and centers have stopped responding to inquiries.
Sharon Markich of Cavoodle World in New South Wales says prices for in-demand puppies have skyrocketed in the past 18 months.
“Puppy prices have almost doubled and some breeders last year were charging up to $ 10,000 for their little Cavoodles,” Markich said. “At one point I had to stop taking deposits and just reached the customers who have been on the waiting list since Christmas.
“During this lockdown it has started again and people are demanding that they be able to leave deposits on the puppies that have not even been born yet.”
But, as Snack’s new family discovered when they were repeatedly pushed back for younger adoptions and began to consider an older pet, there are plenty of alternatives.
“There is a lot less demand for older pets,” says Alison Cairns of the Mini Kitty Common (MKC) rescue organization.
“By default, people often adopt a kitten, but one of the things I love about older cats is that you know exactly what you’re getting. You know what their personality is, if they will fit in with your household and with existing pets. You have the option of choosing an animal that you know will adapt to your lifestyle.
Unlike the long waitlist for kittens, Cairns says the organization only relocates two older cats per month, with older cats receiving fewer requests.
“Really, it’s no different adopting a kitten. People mistakenly think that an older cat is going to be a lot of work or be with their family for a short time, but with proper care, there’s no reason you can’t adopt an older cat that will pass by. years with you. There may be an extra one or two visits to the vet per year, but many of these cats are so happy to have a roof over their heads that they don’t ask for much more.
There are some centers that specialize in senior rescues, but the majority of shelters have older pets that you may encounter. When speaking to your local shelter, let them know that you want to adopt an older pet, or check out sites like PetRescue that have filters you can use to find senior pets near you.
If there are any issues during the first few weeks of an animal’s return home, the rescue organization is always there to help.
For people who currently have more time at home than usual, but who anticipate a return to travel or long hours of work after confinement is over, there is foster care.
Isabella Polizzi, foster care coordinator at Sydney Dogs and Cats Home, says all kinds of people accept pets. As with adoptions, the need and demand for foster care can vary widely. Small and medium sized dogs are a popular option, but flexible people can find a match faster.
While there are generally more apps than animals available, Polizzi says many shelters struggle to relocate larger or more active dog breeds such as Staffys and Mastiffs.
Sydney Dogs and Cats Home, the RSPCA and other rescue organizations have application forms available on their websites or you can contact your local shelter and inquire about their hosting program.
Once your request is received, the shelter will contact you to guide you through the next steps. They will work with you to help you find an animal that is best for your situation, and will conduct home visits and interviews where possible.
There is also a lot of support available. Polizzi regularly checks in with host families and there is open communication about the impact of the new family member on household dynamics, including the mental health of everyone involved.
Short term care
Another short-term option is to become a caregiver. In August 2020, Olivia Purnell and her fiance, Andrew Maraun, welcomed service dog Seren into their home. Olivia had grown up with dogs, but didn’t think they could have one as she and Andrew lived in an apartment and worked full time. During the pandemic, after reading a story about service dogs that work with returning servicemen, Purnell began researching to become a caregiver.
Dogs that are going to be trained need guardians between eight weeks and 12 to 18 months. Assistance Dogs Australia and Guide Dogs Australia have offices across the country and all information on becoming a puppy sitter can be found on their websites. After completing an application form, the organization will conduct several interviews and home visits to ensure that you are a suitable candidate before being paired with a puppy. The organizations cover all the costs of food, medicine, training and equipment.
“I unfortunately got laid off in September of last year and having Seren by my side to look after me was wonderful,” Purnell said.
“I feel so lucky that we had the opportunity to raise her and we miss her loads, but I know she makes a difference in someone else’s life and this is the greatest gift. . “
Snack’s new mom, Kay Campbell, feels the same way and loved welcoming an older pet into the family.
“I had never adopted an older pet before and wasn’t sure how she would fit in with our other pets, but she is so full of life and energy,” she says. “She quickly becomes part of the clan.
“She certainly follows young dogs and she is very good at leading us around!” It didn’t take her long before she had the whole family wrapped around her paw.