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The importance of National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day 2021.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of your pooch laying across your feet at night, or your cat curled up on your lap while you watch TV. While lockdown has brought with it many negatives, the positive has certainly been the extra appreciation we’ve felt for our pets. While our pets have always been there to snuggle, exercise with, cry with and play with, spending so much time at home, especially for those on their own, means our pets have carried us emotionally through this incredibly taxing time.

On 30th of April we observe National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day, and, as Marycke Ackhurst pet behaviour expert from Hill’s Pet Nutrition explains, this year is especially significant. “Unfortunately, because of lockdown, and with it many job losses, shelters found themselves inundated with more pets looking for forever homes than ever before. Added to that shelters weren’t operating during months of hard lockdown, and many are still trying to find their way out of extra costs and overcrowding.”

That being said, adds Ackhurst, the decision to adopt a pet shouldn’t be made on a whim. If you’ve gone through some huge life changes or aren’t planning on staying in one place for too long, maybe now isn’t the right time to adopt. Besides adoption, there are other ways to make a difference this National Adopt A Shelter Pet Day, such as visiting your local animal shelter to volunteer or donate.

Ackhurst provides the below tips for making your adoption a success, and another if adoption isn’t an option for you right now:

  • It’s a responsibility, so think it through carefully – It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of visiting a shelter and deciding to bring home the first, cutest or saddest doe-eyed looking dog or cat you see. However, your first choice may not be the best. Pet parenting is a major responsibility; you’re agreeing to provide care for the rest of your pet’s life. Not only is this a big commitment of time and money, but it also entails dealing with any emotional or behavioural problems your pet may have.

  • Choosing the right pet for you and your family – While you, or your kids, may be overly eager for a new cuddly companion, choosing the right pet is a process that takes time, research, and careful planning. However, that said, when adopting a shelter pet, it's a good idea to remain open-minded. While you may have a specific age, breed, or ‘look’ in mind, you might find a better match based on temperament, activity level and family fit.

  • Know your limitations – It's important to ask plenty of questions about the pet and any special needs they may have. Most shelters will do their best to make sure you are aware of any additional needs this pet may require determining if you'd be a good fit. While shelters want the pet to be adopted, their priority is ensuring a loving forever home, so don't be discouraged if they feel you will be more suited to a different pet.

  • Bringing your new pet home – There’s nothing more secure and welcoming as a safe, cosy bed when bringing your new pet home. Remember that a new environment is scary for any pet. It is important to give them lots of time to settle and also decompress from their previous life which is very different from the life that you are offering them. Try to avoid overcrowding them and, as much as you want to show off your new family member, give them time to get to know you and your home, before introducing them to the extended family. It’s a good idea to establish the rules upfront, such as what rooms your pet will have access to, where he or she will sleep, and if your pet will be allowed on the furniture.

  • Feeding your new pet – When taking your new pet to the vet for his first check-up speak to the vet about the best food options. It’s important not to start your pet on a new food entirely as it may cause an upset tummy. Mix your pet’s current food, the shelter can advise you on this, with the new food and increase the amount gradually while decreasing the old food over at least a seven-day period.

If you’ve already got a pet, or now just isn’t the right time to adopt one, but you’d still like to do your part, then why not make the most of Hill’s latest offer? Their small dog free toy promo* is running now meaning, when you purchase a bag of Hill’s Canine between 1.5kg and 6kg you get a free plush toy. Then, head to your nearest shelter plush toy in hand. They’re gorgeous and super cuddly and will make the perfect shelter pet snuggle companion.

*T & C’s apply

For more information visit the Hill’s Pet Nutrition website

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