Proliferation of pocket pets at Lost Dogs’ Home

Nigel the guinea pig. 264730_01 Photo: SUPPLIED

The number of pocket pets arriving at The Lost Dogs’ Home shelters in Cranbourne and North Melbourne has almost tripled in six months, leading to calls for pet owners to carefully consider their adoption choices.

Data from The Lost Dogs’ Home shows that the number of pocket pets that have arrived at the shelters increased month-on-month from August to December, peaking with 53 in December.

Shelter supervisor Allie Small said the cause was likely due to a combination of the increase in the cost to purchase a dog from a breeder during Covid-19, the demand outstripping the supply of animals in the shelters and the perception that pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets are low maintenance.

‘’The difficulty people had getting a pet during this period has led them to look at different alternatives,’’ Ms Small said.

‘’Pocket pets may be small, but they are as deserving of our love as their larger counterparts such as dogs and cats.

“It is heart breaking watching so many of them, often not microchipped, being abandoned in such alarming numbers.’’

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs are also viewed as low maintenance and children friendly pets (which is not necessarily the case) so families took on these pets while their children were remote learning.

Rabbits and Guinea Pigs may not cost a lot to purchase and set up in the home, however their ongoing maintenance (feeding requirements, medical care and enrichment needs) are often more specialised than a dog or a cat, and they can become costly over time.

Ms Small said this often leads to people surrendering or rehoming these pets as they are unable to appropriately care for them.

The Lost Dogs’ Home is working with its rescue and corporate partners to re-home all pets that arrive at their shelters.