Must love dogs: Why now is the ideal time to adopt a pet

golden retriever sleeping on the floor next to a person on their laptop

Sue Hewitt

Posted April 02, 2020

Want to adopt a pet? Victorian animal shelters have fur babies in need of good homes.

If going for long lonely walks every day or spending hours holed up at home has you wishing for a four-legged friend, the good news is that major Victorian animal shelters including the Lost Dogs’ Home and RSPCA have many dogs and cats in need of a good home and are still open, albeit by appointment and with restricted operating conditions. But is now really a good time to commit to a new pet?

On the plus side, social distancing and self-isolation mean many of us will be able to spend plenty of all-important bonding time at home with a new pet. Playing with, stroking and talking to a fur-ever friend can help relieve feelings of stress and social isolation at times like this, not to mention providing an incentive to get out into the fresh air for your government-approved 30 minutes’ exercise each day.

“Pet adoption comes with an abundance of benefits for the person adopting, including companionship, stress relief and general wellbeing, while for the animal adopted it’s life changing,” says Suzana Talevski of the Lost Dogs’ Home.

“You are providing an animal with the second or in some cases a third chance they deserve,” Suzana says. She says some animals have come from horrific circumstances while others have come from owners no longer able to look after them due to illness or a change in their situation. Each animal is rehabilitated for adoption or fostering and the shelter takes care of a vet check, vaccinations, desexing and micro-chipping. 

brown labrador sitting on grass outside

Not all breeds suit all households so make sure you research the type of animal you are interested in and ensure it suits your home, family and lifestyle.

But while a pet can be a wonderful companion during self-isolation, Suzana cautions that adopting an animal is a long-term commitment, and that people should carefully consider whether the particular breed of cat or dog is a good fit for their individual circumstances. (More: How to choose the right dog breed for you.) 

“Not all breeds suit all households so make sure you research the type of animal you are interested in and ensure it suits your home, family and lifestyle,” she says.

For those unable to commit to a long-term pet, Suzana says a number of shelters across Australia, including the Lost Dogs’ Home, need temporary foster carers.

“If you are looking to adopt an animal, but still not quite sure whether you are up for the responsibility of taking on a pet or are unsure of which pet would be best for you and your family, then fostering various different animals might be the right option for you,” Suzana says. 

Fostering under the current circumstances may extend beyond the Lost Dogs’ Home’s normal four to six-week period.


black and brown french bulldog in a field

Temporary or full-time adoption are both suitable options for those wishing to have a pooch around the home.


RSPCA Victoria’s chief executive officer Dr Liz Walker says its shelters are also still offering pets for adoption, which can be seen on its website. 

“We’re still open for business, but we’re adapting the way we do things to manage both staff and customer wellbeing and safety,” she says. “That includes the introduction of bookings that allow potential adopters to make an appointment prior to coming into our shelters.”

“Some of our regional centres may appear shut as we are changing access for the public, but rest assured we are still open for business.” 

Seeing Eye Dogs, run by Vision Australia, is looking for a limited number of puppy foster carers in Geelong, Ballarat and the Mornington Peninsula. 

Vision Australia’s puppy expert Jane Bradley says the organisation, which has 26,000 visually impaired members, needs volunteers to train pups to meet a growing waiting list.

“The pup needs to be part of your family for six to 12 months and they can’t be left alone for more than three hours a day, so just doing this because of social isolation won’t work,” she says. 

As an essential service, Seeing Eye Dogs remains open, and is operating under strict social distancing and hygiene rules when new carers and their pups meet trainers. The organisation is also offering online puppy training, she says.

Vision Australia covers all expenses including equipment, food, vet costs, puppy health care and training.

Meanwhile, if you have a pet in need of veterinary care, one of Victoria’s major pet hospitals, Lort Smith, is still offering services for sick or urgent cases, but not routine check-ups.