Pet ownership costs: Adoption rates continue to surge alongside surrenders

Rescue kitten wrapped in towel being held post-adoption.

It’s no secret many Australians have turned to fluffy, four-legged friends to help them get through the instability and social isolation of the last 18 months. Animal rescue and adoption groups like the RSPCA and PetRescue have seen massive surges in people looking to take home pets.

Over the last year, PetRescue saw 51,899 pets listed for adoption through the service, with each pet getting an enquiry every two minutes on average. The animal welfare charity’s website also saw an uptick of 8.5% in visitors compared to the previous financial year.

But it’s also clear some pet owners are struggling to manage these new family members post-adoption. 

The Lost Dogs Home in Victoria recorded a 67% increase in the amount of people returning adopted pets over the past year. The shelter reports many returns within as little as 72 hours, often due to people not understanding or being able to cope with an adopted pet’s behaviour as it integrates into its new environment.

While RSPCA data released to The New Daily shows the 2020 surrender figures weren’t as high as previous years, it did find financial strain was the leading cause for surrenders to the group. 

Of the 1,540 pets surrendered to the RSPCA from the start of the year until April, 24% of owners said they were giving up the pet as they couldn’t afford basic care for it. Other causes included having too many pets and moving house, as well as not being able to provide vet treatment.

Is pet insurance worth it?

The costs of pet ownership are considerable. ASIC estimates you’ll spend around $1,627 caring for a dog and $962 looking after a cat each year after initial adoption, healthcare and other set-up costs which can sit in the thousands. 

So, if you’re already struggling to financially support a pet, factoring in pet insurance premiums could be difficult. That’s why it is so important to ensure you’re in a stable financial and personal position before buying or adopting a pet.

If you are, it could still be worth taking out pet insurance. These policies (which are generally just for cats and dogs) can help cover some vet treatments so you’re not left with an unexpected bill if your pet becomes ill or is injured. Just make sure the premium you are paying fits within your budget and is value-for-money considering coverage.

And always check Product Disclosure Statements (PDS) when considering pet insurance options. By reading the fine print, you’ll know exactly what circumstances and events your pet is covered for, plus any exclusions or limits to coverage and claim pay-outs.

If you’re looking for top quality and value pet insurance options, start your research with the best pet insurance policies in Australia, as crowned in  the 2021 Mozo Experts Choice Pet Insurance Awards.