The number of Victorians wanting to foster animals has skyrocketed, with people turning to animal companionship as a response to social distancing.
The Lost Dogs Home in Melbourne has a waiting list boasting 1,000 prospective carers compared with 600 before the coronavirus shut the city down, spokeswoman Suzana Talevski said. “Once COVID-19 got under way, expressions of interest ballooned.”
Ms Talevski said a lot of people who had wanted to get a pet for a very long time had been inspired to take the plunge into ownership.
For others, fostering could be a more appropriate decision, she said, warning against impulse purchasing of animals.
Animal companionship could help ease the toll of social distancing and lifestyle disruption brought on the COVID-19 outbreak, Ms Talevski said. “For a lot of people, being stuck in isolation can be pretty grim so an animal takes some of that away,”
“Light and laughter — that’s what we need.”
Ms Talevski said cats and kittens were proving more popular adoptions than dogs, which she chalked up to the easier levels of care required by felines compared to their canine counterparts.
“Cats don’t need to be walked and don’t need larger spaces,” she said.
“Especially in built-up urban areas, it’s easier to keep a cat than a dog, and that plays a role, definitely.”
In the west Melbourne suburb of Williamstown, Wendy Forrest and her family are fostering a mother cat and her trio of three-week-old kittens.
“They are hilarious when they [the kittens] get going,” Ms Forrest said.
“One of the reasons we take queens [mother cats] and litters is [while] people are under the misconception that they’re hard work, in fact it’s the mums that do everything.”
Ms Forrest said she had started fostering cats as an antidote to her volunteer work supporting victims of domestic violence.
“They bring a lot of joy to us, as they do for our children,” she said.
Ms Forrest is immunocompromised and her 24-year-old daughter who works as a nurse in a hospital emergency department hasn’t been visiting the family home but has been the recipient of kitten pictures.
However, son Liam, 21, has embraced the kittens as a salve for social distancing. “They’re good fun,” he said. “We’ve had them once before but I’m definitely enjoying their company at the moment, being stuck at home.”
Mr Forrest, who is studying a bachelor of design online, said studying in his bedroom all the time was beginning to take its toll.
“It can get pretty boring just sitting in my room doing work so it’s nice to step out to have something close to human interaction,” he said. “The past week or so, I have kind of gotten a feeling a bit like cabin fever, the feeling like I’m locked up all the time.”
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