EXPERT ADVICE: How to choose a rescue animal that’s right for you and your family

Adopt don't shop!
Loading the player...

To put it bluntly, animal shelters across Australia are bursting at the seams.

It’s an age-old issue that has only been exacerbated by two years of pandemic-induced lockdowns, which saw thousands of Aussies welcome a new furry friend into their homes. 

And whilst some new pet owners have well and truly adopted their coronavirus impulse purchase during lockdowns into their families, others have surrendered their animals into shelters.

WATCH NOW: Dr. Chris Brown and Dr. Lisa Chimes do their Logies ‘Fashion Turn’. Article continues after video.

Emergency vet Dr. Lisa Chimes (who you also may recognise from her time on Bondi Vet with Dr. Chris Brown) tells New Idea that prospective pet owners need to scrap the spontaneity when it comes to adopting an animal. 

“The most important thing is making sure that you are truly ready to adopt a pet in the first place,” Dr Chimes tells us. 

RELATED || How to do a health check on your pet

“A big issue that we’ve got particularly at the moment is that there was a huge surge in adoption rates and people buying [pets] during covid – it was a domino effect of everyone doing what everyone else had and people wanted companionship.”

“But then everyone went back to work full-time, lockdown ended and COVID was over, and all of a sudden people have these pets that potentially have behavioural issues or they [the owners] realise this is not what they want to do for the next 15 years and are put in a situation where they have to give up their pet.”

Lisa with her adopted fur babies (Credit: Instagram)

According to the television vet, that coupled with the current cost of living crisis has created the perfect storm for animal shelters across the country. 

“People are finding it very difficult financially to do their day-to-day things and having a pet is a huge extra cost,” Dr Chimes says. 

As a result, some pet owners are being forced to surrender their animals due to being unable to pay for their care. 

“For me, the best way to prevent this from happening in the first place is to really think about the big picture,” Dr Chimes adds. 

“Think about the fact that you’ll potentially have this pet for the next 10-15 years, work out if you can afford it, work out if you can incorporate that pet into your lifestyle, are you or are you not going to be having kids, will you be travelling, will you be working full time….all those factors need to be assessed before you make that commitment, it should never be something spontaneous.”

Dr Lisa has been on Aussie screens for over a decade (Credit: Instagram)

So for those looking to adopt an animal at some point in the future, what should they consider? 

Well for starters, Dr Chimes suggests adopting, and not shopping to reduce the burden on overflowing animal shelters and give animals a “second chance.”

“It’s just a wonderful thing to do for the animal. Honestly, I’ve got two rescue dogs and the feeling of knowing that you’ve helped them is just yeah….it feels pretty good.”

WATCH NOW: Why you should adopt an older pet. Article continues after video.

Loading the player...

The 39-year-old also outlines a series of steps prospective pet owners should take before committing to pet parenthood. 

“Okay, you’ve decided you want an animal. The next step is going to meet the animals and spend time with them, it’s not just ‘oh this one is really cute’ and it’s a puppy and really adorable but it ends up growing into a 70kg dog.”

You really need to: 

  1. Spend time with the animal
  2. Have an in-depth conversation with the shelter staff about the animal: How big is it going to get? What specific things will it need in the future? Has it got any health problems? Will there be a commitment to grooming?
In short: Adopt, don’t shop! (Credit: Instagram)

“Once you’ve established all of that it’s also about spending time with that dog or cat and seeing if the emotional connection is there between the two of you. It’s important not to rush into things.”

“A lot of shelters offer a trial period which I think is really important because it gives you and the pet the chance to see if you work together well, if you live together well.”

“Just take your time to make that decision.”

If you and your family are considering adopting a pet, have a look online at RSPCA to see all the animals looking for their fur-ever home!

Related stories