Animal adoptions surge in wake of bushfire recovery, COVID lockdowns

OVER THE MOON: Lotus is happy with her new owner in Mallacoota after being adopted through AWL Far South Coast. Photo supplied.

OVER THE MOON: Lotus is happy with her new owner in Mallacoota after being adopted through AWL Far South Coast. Photo supplied.

Everyone is looking for someone to love.

So it's not surprising that a spike in pet adoptions has coincided with Australians being more confined to home due to COVID-19, and in the case of our region, continuing bushfire recovery.

Pets are a great source of comfort and companionship, can reduce anxiety, stress, and depression and encourage playfulness and exercise.

The Far South Coast branch of the NSW Animal Welfare League (AWL) said it had been rehoming animals in need far more easily in 2020 than in previous years.

Welfare officer for AWLFSC Wendy Cook said the branch had received an enormous number of queries.

"I haven't experienced such a high demand before... people have more time to spend with pets now.

"It's not just us, it's happening across the board, our other branches are experiencing the same thing," Ms Cook said.

In addition to local adoptions, AWLFSC has taken animals as far away as Adaminaby, Mallacoota, Wollongong, Sydney, Canberra and Newcastle.

"We've been very mindful of social distancing and sanitisation when doing handovers."

One of the adoptions scheduled to take place this week involves a border crossing via courier, en route to Genoa, where Australian Working Dog Rescue will receive the doggy delivery and rehome him further south.

"We've been lucky to have plenty of choices for good homes locally, I have been able to pick places the animals seemed happiest, sometimes out of up to 12 homes," Ms Cook said.

"We've had more elderly people adopting dogs which is great - they often want slightly older animals who aren't always easy to rehome.

"They're often replacing pets and are really thinking about what they're taking on and know not to get pets who are too young."

After losing everything in the Black Summer fires, Mallacoota resident Carol Nelson decided to adopt a cat as a surprise for her daughter, in the hope it might lift her spirits.

"Fortunately we had a medical appointment booked in Merimbula, so were lucky we could cross the border for that and receive Lotus from Wendy," Ms Nelson said

"My daughter is over the moon, it's given her something else to focus on and take responsibility for."

Tura Beach resident Olga Walker is a volunteer firefighter whose dog Dougal passed away in 2019, aged 13.

She recently adopted terrier cross Megsi.

Tura Beach resident Olga Walker with newly adopted terrier cross, Megsi.
Photo supplied.

Tura Beach resident Olga Walker with newly adopted terrier cross, Megsi. Photo supplied.

"We were planning to travel to visit family and friends after the fires, so delayed adopting a dog, but once COVID hit we were in more of a position to seriously consider it," Ms Walker said.

"The AWL are a fantastic organisation. They're really positive and are there for you, neither you nor the animals are abandoned."

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