I’m often asked what the best type of pet is. The answer is easy: A rescued one!
However, when I say ‘best’ I do not mean perfect.
I once had a government official (who is no longer working in government) tell me that perhaps our financial challenges were related to the fact that we were “selling the wrong kind of product.” She meant that if we only rehomed the perfect pure bred animals that were in high demand we wouldn’t have problems adopting them out; and therefore would have plenty of money as a result.
She obviously did not understand our mission at all!
Every day dozens of animals come through the doors of our Shelter in Weston. More often than not, their pasts are a mystery and seldom do we know their full medical or behavioural history.
Despite this, we endeavour to give EVERY animal the best available care when they arrive. Furthermore, we do not discriminate by breed or appearance. Instead, we will help any abused, neglected, injured, unwanted and sometimes lost animal as long as we have the cage or kennel space to do so. The only time we might make such judgement calls is if we know that the animal has a history of aggressive behaviour or has hurt a person or another living being.
With every animal that comes into the Shelter, we must eventually rehome them to make room for the next one. That is why we have such a well-defined adoption program where we try to match the animals with the best possible owner for them.
I admit that sometimes we don’t always get this right the first time. For every complaint we receive about getting it wrong, we’ll get another saying that we were too strict in our selection process.
Nevertheless, we must be doing something right. As of the end of May, this financial year we’ve rehomed 2,509 animals with only 31 of them being returned due to behavioural reasons. That’s a lot of happy families with only around 1% of all adoptions resulting in a mismatch!
Still, the animals we rehome are seldom perfect - but to be fair, is any animal? I get regular updates from mates and acquaintances about their pets destroying furniture, weeing in the wrong places, stealing food, picking fights with other animals and significant health challenges. Most of these pets were not adopted from the RSPCA.
Even my own lovable rescue cat of 15 years is not perfect. She’s afraid of everything. She’s known to wake me up as early as 5am to feed her, and has recently found a way to stand completely inside of her litter tray and still miss it completely. And as she continues to age, I do expect more and more medical bills. Despite these imperfections, I love her anyway and adore her quirky ways.
o many of us have imperfect pets. What about you? Send us your pet’s story at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tammy Ven Dange is the CEO of RSPCA ACT in Canberra, Australia. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram via @tvendange