• How pets in Australia are the latest victim of the cost-of-living crisis

    April 14, 2024


    The cost-of-living crisis continues to impact pet in Australia, with the large number of surrendered and dumped pets leading to overflowing shelters and more stray dogs and cats on the streets.

    Melbourne’s Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR) is one of many animal welfare organisations struggling to keep up with the unwanted pets.

    Kitten sitting on outdoor fence for homeless pets in Australia


    READ The global homeless pet crisis: statistics show just how many stray dogs and cats are on the streets around the globe

    Second Chance Animal Rescue in Melbourne says large dog breeds are becoming homeless more than any other pet.

    And while SCAR commits to rescuing and rehoming the cats and dogs, the sharp increase is making it hard to keep up.

    The shelter reports a 35% decline in adoptions since the start of 2024. With large dogs and adult cats are facing the most severe impact.

    Marisa Debattista, CEO of SCAR, says the shelter is also receiving more inquiries about surrenders than ever before.

    “We are witnessing a 23% increase in surrender enquiries, especially for adult cats and dogs,” she says.

    “Large dogs are spending on average an extra 71 days in our care before finding a new home, compared to the same period last year.”

    Pets in Australia: from pandemic boom to cost-of-living surrender crisis

    The large rise in homeless pets comes a couple of years since the significant rise in pet ownership during the COVID lockdowns. The nation saw an unprecedented frenzied rise in pet adoptions and sales during the pandemic, a time when the companionship of pets was sought after more than ever.

    However, as Debattista notes, “right now pets are suffering” and the harsh reality of the economic downturn has had a significant impact on these four-legged family members.

    The cost of living in Australia has surged significantly during the past year. The nation has seen increases of 4.0% and 6.9% reported in the twelve months leading to the December 2023 quarter.

    This financial strain has also led to a 20% decrease in animals being groomed.

    As well as a fivefold increase in calls and emails for SCAR’s Outreach programs. All of which arise as pet owners grapple with the rising costs of care.

    The shelter itself is not immune to the economic hardships either, facing a 43% decline in donations, which directly affects its capacity to offer vital outreach programs to the community, despite the increased need.

    Finder’s research shows the broader impact of the crisis. It reveals more than three million Australians have been forced to cut back on spending for their pets.

    And around 200,000 households having to surrender their pets altogether.

    This highlights the urgent need for support and solutions for animal welfare organisations like SCAR.

    After all, it’s these organisations that are on the frontline of this growing issue.

    As SCAR navigates these challenging times, it calls on the community for support. They welcome donations, volunteering, and considering the adoption of large breed dogs and adult cats.

    “Now more than ever, we need the community’s help,” says Debattista.

    “(to) ensure these animals find loving homes and to continue our mission of rescuing and rehoming those in need.”

    How to help reduce number of homeless pets in Australia

    Visit SCARs website to learn how you can support the organisation and homeless pets.

    Second Chance Animal Rescue (SCAR) is a non-profit organisation based in Melbourne. It dedicates itself to the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehoming of homeless and stray cats and dogs.

    SCAR also commits to helping disadvantaged pet owners.

    Founded on the belief that every animal deserves a second chance, SCAR is committed to providing the highest standard of care for animals in need, advocating for animal welfare, and working towards a future where every pet is safe, respected, and loved.


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