A life-saving plan can only succeed if management and local council leaders are willing to try, resource and support new approaches to pound management. Without this, all efforts to implement the other 10 life-saving principles will fail.
Pounds can’t do this alone. They need the support of rescue partners in their community to assist with the rehabilitation and rehoming of pets, not just to reduce the strain on capacity and resources, but to make the rescue and rehoming process as stress-free as possible for all pets.
And there are lots of different community partners that will help, such as breed-specific rescue groups and even senior pet rescue groups.
There’s a shockingly large proportion of healthy and treatable homeless pets who are killed without being offered for adoption to the Australian public.
To save lives, pounds need to actively promote their animals with comprehensive adoption programs that respond to the needs of their local community. This can be as simple as extending public opening hours on weekends and selected week nights to let families and working people view the pets for adoption. It can also include adoption events, incentives and marketing, as well as listing pets on the PetRescue website for free.
Some pets entering pounds need treatment or rehabilitation before they can be put up for adoption. But even the most normal, balanced and healthy family pets can get anxious and sick when they enter the pound or pound system. A foster care program is a low-cost (often no-cost) and humane way of preparing these pets for adoption.
Offer it cheap, or offer it free! When desexing services are delivered at high volume and low cost or even no-cost in communities, stats show a significant decline in the number of pets entering pounds over time. Aside from a couple of days of discomfort for the pet, it’s a win-win for communities, pounds and companion animals.
The reason so many cat management programs fail is simple. They are based on the belief that all cats have owners. The fact is that free roaming cats have been part of our community ecosystems for as long as we’ve lived in cities. Desexing, instead of killing free-roaming cats, is an effective and humane way of controlling cat populations, reducing the number of cats being brought in to pounds and improving the welfare of cats already living in our communities.
Often pets are surrendered due to a change in life circumstances and increasingly, pet owners are having difficulty finding and securing pet-friendly rental properties. In these cases, surrenders at pounds can be avoided by offering advice and assistance that will enable owners to keep their pets.
Many pounds have low or no hygiene standards, and don’t vaccinate on intake. That means even the healthiest of rescue pets entering the system can get infected and sick before they’ve even had a chance to find a home. In other instances, pets are being killed in pounds that have treatable health and behaviour problems.
Some are simply underweight or need basic training. That’s where comprehensive medical and behaviour programs can save lives.
One of the biggest mistakes a pounds or pound can make is to alienate and shut out their greatest allies – the pet lovers in their communities who can help. Never underestimate the power of positive public relations and an engaged, involved community in saving lives.
Not only do they reduce the pressure on limited pound resources, but more importantly, they make the whole rehabilitation and rehoming process less stressful for pets. Their time and attention keep animals sane and improve behaviour – ultimately making pets more adoptable.
When lost pets are found, every reasonable effort should be made to return pets to their owners and help owners find their pets, without impounding. All pets should be listed online, all registration details should be checked, and all microchips should be scanned to give pets the best chance of finding their way home.
A series of three guidebooks created to uncover the issues prevalent in many pet shelters all around Australia and recommendations on how to fix them.
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