Whilst on a recent trip to Rockhampton, we were on the search for a bag of Hills Science Diet (not for us, for our Boxer Tia), when we came across the RSPCA own pet shop. Really nice retail operation – bright, clean, lots of product, friendly helpful staff, but best of all, well placed open pens near the front for doggies and a great cat enclosure – all designed to help rehome needy shelter animals. We like the concept.
Says RSPCA Queesnland CEO Mark Townend:
“The strategy behind the store is that Shelters are the worst places animals could be – they have disease and herd health issues, they are no good for the animal’s behaviour nor for humans. Often a very sad and depressing place to visit. In Queensland I therefore have no intention of building new RSPCA Shelters, (certainly we will replace or renew the ones we have but no additions). There will be some new Pounds maybe built by local Governments for animal control, but I even see these as limited.
With the use of the internet and some smart technology I believe a good well organised foster network to house the animals is ideal. The animals can be marketed for rehoming through the internet with some retail type space, e.g. Rocky Pet shop, where people can meet and greet the animals in a place that’s easy and pleasant for them to get to. Unfortunately the public are essentially “lazy”, and often all that happens if they have to travel too far, otherwise good pet owners will just source an animal from a pet shop or some other convenient source that more than likely isn’t desexed etc. So my aim is to ensure these establishments, whether they are RSPCA Pet shops, private pet shops or vet clinics, rehome RSPCA desexed animals. (Of course we would make sure all the establishments meet certain standards.)
We have our own retail rehoming places at Rockhampton and Springwood now, with a new one opening on the Gold Coast in late October.
We have a new Outreach coordinator starting in a couple of weeks who will be rolling this program out more aggressively now we have tried it in a number of different locations and circumstances to get the processes right.”
From March 1 to September 14th, this initiative has given 96 cats and dogs a new home. Thats 96 families who didn’t go to a traditional puppy /kitten selling pet shop.
The move to find homes for homeless pets using retail space in the public areas of towns and cities, additionally including established ethical pet shops, is clearly increasing. In Alice Springs recently we spoke to a pet shop owner who told us that they regularly took on kittens given to them by the public (accidental pregnancies), but they never pay a cent to the provider – they see this as a way of getting homes for the animals. (hey, how about giving the provider a voucher for reduced cost desexing sponsored by a local vet?). This pet shop owner told us they are about to start a trial to rehome homeless pets working with the RSPCA NT. Way to go! We say!
We can’t help but think that its an excellent way to get “orphaned pets” out into retail land where people are happier to shop than traditional pounds or shelters. Tell us what you think of this initiative! Tell us about similar initiatives in your local area!