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  • Writer's pictureThe Beagle

Love knows no breed – Batemans Bay rescue pets shed stereotypes this Adoption Day Feb 9th

On Saturday February 9, fur babies big and small will descend upon PETstock Batemans Bay and stores across the country as part of the fifth annual National Pet Adoption Day (NPAD). The initiative, run by PETstock’s charity arm PETstock Assist and leading adoption site PetRescue, is this year hoping to double the number of pets adopted during 2018 to 1,000. In an Australian first, all breed labels will be removed from pets listed on in the week leading up to NPAD, to ensure as many loving pets of all types find the homes they deserve. PETstock Assist Charity and Events Coordinator, Jess Guilfoyle, says she hopes the move will help Aussies forget any preconceptions they have about rescue pets or breed characteristics and get to know the animals for who they are. “Every pet is unique and individual, and I encourage people considering a new pet to keep an open mind – you may just be surprised by who you fall for,” she says. “Love really does know no breed.” Animal behaviourist Dr Kate Mornement says there are many more important factors than breed that determine a pet’s personality and temperament. “Personality and temperament are also influenced by previous experiences and individual differences. This is why you get so much variation both within and between breeds,” she says. “Many well socialised and trained pets find themselves in need of a new home. Even those pets that may not have had a great start to life can become wonderful companions. With some love and guidance, their personalities shine.” Every year around 200,000 pets remain unclaimed in Australian pounds, a statistic PetRescue co-founder Vickie Davy is determined to change. “I hope by encouraging people to look for an individual pet rather than a particular breed we can educate people on the incredible benefits of adopting a pet in need,” she says. “Just like humans, personality is individual and it’s what’s on the inside that counts. “Breeds come in and out of fashion and unfortunately the stereotypes around them can lead to people choosing the wrong pet for their families. “Not all cute fluffy dogs are great with kids and overlooking a big boofy dog (who loves children and naps) may mean you miss out on the perfect family dog. “From couch potatoes to fitness fanatics and beer buddies, there’s a pet to suit every lifestyle and one of the biggest benefits to adopting is knowing that personality in advance. “National Pet Adoption Day is a fantastic opportunity for Batemans Bay locals to find their perfect match.” National Pet Adoption Day will be held at PETstock stores across the country on Saturday February 9. Pet lovers are encouraged to visit their local store to meet animals searching for their forever home and learn more about adoption. For more information please visit or PETstock National Pet Adoption Day Expert Q&A Q&A with Dr. Kate Mornement Kate is a Ph.D. qualified Applied Animal Behaviourist based in Melbourne. Kate’s PhD thesis was entitled “Shelter dogs in Australia: Public perceptions and assessment of behaviour for adoption suitability”. What determines a pet’s personality and temperament? A pet’s behaviour, personality and temperament are influenced by a combination of genetics, prior learning and the current environment. Breed can explain some common traits, like herding or pointing, however research shows that personality can vary as much or even more within breeds than between breeds. An animal’s life experience plays a large role in the development of their personality. Many well socialised and trained pets find themselves in need of a new home. Even those pets that may not have had a great start to life can become wonderful companions. With some love and guidance their personalities shine. What should you look for in a new pet? Look for a pet that suits your living situation and lifestyle. For example, if you live in an apartment and work full time, look for a couch potato type rather than a high energy pet. If you lead a busy lifestyle and don’t have much time for grooming, choose a pet with a short coat that’s low maintenance. Consider how the personality of the pet fits in too. An outgoing personality is better suited to an owner who’s a social butterfly compared to a pet who is a little shy. If you already have pets, choose a new pet who gets along well with the types of pets you already have. When adopting our newest family member, I looked for a dog who was great with children, liked other dogs, easy to train and who would make an ideal running buddy. Lenny was the perfect addition to our family. How damaging are false breed stereotypes to rescue pets? Breed stereotypes may make potential adopters less likely to adopt dogs of certain breeds, making it more likely these pets will endure longer stays in shelters or even be unable to find new homes. Research shows that people’s perceptions of individuals can be influenced by even brief exposure to negative information. In this way, breed stereotypes can be very damaging to rescue pets. What did your research discover about public attitudes towards shelter dogs? My PhD research showed that people hold positive attitudes towards shelter dogs in Australia. The majority of participants in my research, who had recently adopted a rescue dog, agreed their rescue dog was a member of their family; strongly agreed that the adoption process was a positive experience, that they would adopt again in future and that their rescue dog has met their expectations. Q&A with Vickie Davy Co-Founder and CEO of PetRescue. As a passionate animal lover Vickie quit her corporate job to start PetRescue, which is now Australia’s most visited charity website. What are the benefits of pet adoption? • You can find the perfect fit – rescue groups can give you an overview of the animal’s behaviour and personality, so you know exactly what you’re going to get and find a pet suited to your lifestyle. • Already trained – most rescue pets have been house pets in the past, they come toilet trained and with basic manners so you’re not starting from scratch. • More mellow – adopting an older animal means they are more mellow (and less destructive!) than a young pet and can be a better fit for families with young children. • More love to give – abandoned pets are filled with unlimited love, affection and gratitude for their new homes and are eager to become part of a loving pack. Additionally, adopting a pet can teach valuable lessons to children on the importance of responsibility and empathy. • Save two lives – the life of your rescue pet and the life of another animal that can now make it to rescue. • It’s cost effective – before joining their forever family rescue pets undergo a vet check and behaviour assessment, are de-sexed, vaccinated, wormed and treated for fleas. Why do pets find themselves in need of adoption? • Rescue pets are generally happy, healthy pets that have become homeless through no fault of their own. • Often their owner experiences a change of circumstance that stops them from continuing to care for an animal and provide it with a safe home. • The most common changes in circumstances include moving to a new house or rental property that can’t accommodate pets; experiencing ill health; losing a job or facing a change in financial status; or relationship breakdown. Pet adoption statistics in Australia: • 200,000 pets remain unclaimed in Australian pounds every year • Approximately 100,000 cats and dogs are euthanised in pounds each year • Approximately 80,000 listed pets on PetRescue were happily adopted in 2017 (with more cats than dogs being adopted) • Each year 4.8 million Australians visit PetRescue looking to adopt a rescue pet • There are 250 + pet searches on PetRescue every minute and 480 adoption enquiries per day • The past four NPAD’s have found homes for almost 2,000 rescue pets. Are we getting better at pet adoption? Yes – attitudes have changed. When we started PetRescue in 2004 the perception of rescue pets wasn’t particularly positive. One of the reasons we created the PetRescue website was to break down barriers and show people just how wonderful rescue pets were. Since the inception of the number of pets we see adopted has grown exponentially, with 25% growth in listings and adoptions year-on-year proving the demand for adopting a rescue pet is at an all-time high. People are now proud to say their pet is a rescue pet. What tangible positive impact is adopting pets having on Australian families? Pet companionship has been linked with so many benefits – lower levels of stress and anxiety, reduced risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure, improved mood, and help with loneliness and depression. Not to mention the incredible feeling that comes from knowing you’ve saved a life. And as so many Australians (especially the young) are becoming more aware of how their decisions impact the environment and other aspects of the world around them, this same attitude is reflected in the preference to adopt a pet rather than buy. More and more have turned away from puppy farms and dogs bred with cuteness rather than health in mind and want to save a rescue pet.

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