Everyone who works at the Home does so because they love animals and want to give them the best chance at a happy future. All of the animals we meet are special in their own ways, but some have such a profound impact on us that we decide to make them part of our families, forever!
This is something our CEO, Kerry Thompson, felt when she met Jesse in December last year.
“Jesse was popped into my lap in my office. I wasn’t planning to adopt another dog until after Christmas. Those plans went out the window! I sent a photo of Jesse to my family, and she came home with me the next day. It was love at first sight for the whole family,” said Kerry.
“Jesse loved and bonded quickly with her new family, but was timid with strangers. Her confidence and comfort with other people has significantly improved.”
Jesse’s sister, Scout, also won the heart of a team member here at the Home. Dr David Cunliffe, Animal Welfare Manager at the Home, brought his family into the shelter to meet the littermates.
“Scout was the one who came up to the kids and clearly wanted to be noticed. My beautiful teenage son was in tears because we couldn’t take them all,” said David.
“Scout is very smart and has learned to sit, drop, wait, rollover, high-five, jump up and twirl. Her favourite game is to find one of the many soft toys in the kids’ rooms and bring it into her bed.”
For Kerry and David, the adoption experience has been incredibly rewarding for their families.
You provide a homeless animal with a loving home and get so much back in love – it just makes sense,” said Kerry.
We want nothing more than to find loving homes for all of our adoptable pets, and help as many families as possible experience the same joy that Kerry and David’s families have. So, earlier this year we reviewed our adoption process to focus on conversation, rather than paperwork.
“Not everybody can offer every animal in our care the home they need, but we know that everybody who visits us has the animals’ needs at heart. By spending time with each person, we can learn enough about them to facilitate a great match with a dog or cat who needs them,” said David.
Traditionally, animal shelters haven’t been the most inviting places for families to visit, but we’ve changed this.
Our reception area and adoption centre at North Melbourne have been upgraded, providing comfortable spaces for people to come and find their new pet.
Our shelter dogs are also benefiting from shelter upgrades, enjoying playtime in their new exercise yards. These are only short-term improvements until we explore further opportunities to redevelop the shelter. This will allow us to provide a happier and more enriching environment to homeless pets while we help them along their journey toward finding a new home.
Over the past 12 months, more than 90% of dogs who came into our shelters were reunited with their owner, rehomed through our Adoption Program, or placed into the care of our rescue partners. During the same period, the number of cats who were reunited, rehomed or sent to rescue increased by nearly 10%. As with any animal shelter, many cats who come into our care are wild and unable to be handled or rehomed into our community, and as a result, are humanely put to sleep.
We’ve run a number of adoption campaigns to help rehome as many cats as possible, including half-price and fee-waived promotions, and our first-ever mobile cat adoption day in the south-eastern suburbs.
With pro-bono agency support, we’ve also run advertising campaigns on commercial radio, encouraging Melburnians to open their homes and hearts to a shelter cat. At the moment, we’re working on getting our adoption community service announcements onto the big screen in cinemas across Melbourne.
Despite these efforts, cat welfare and the number of cats in our community are constant challenges for animal shelters. So, in March this year, we launched our mobile pet care unit, MADI. MADI’s primary role is to offer low-cost cat desexing to owners who love their cats, but can’t afford the cost of surgery.
MADI is just one piece of a much larger puzzle to reduce the number of unwanted kittens being born into our community, and to improve the well-being of pet cats.
MADI has only been on the road for five months. During this short time, our mobile vet team has desexed 467 cats and kittens, also providing a free microchip to 91% of these pets.
There’s still so much to be achieved in animal welfare. But, our adoption rates remain steady and euthanasia rates continue to decline to under 10% for dogs, taking us in the right direction. With the support of our generous donors and supporters we are reaching better outcomes for Melbourne’s homeless pets which can only be achieved by also securing our bottom line; despite expecting a budget deficit of 1.7 million for 2015 we instead saw a deficit of $950,000 and we expect to be even closer to breaking even next financial year.