first person

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 May, 2005, 12:00am

I am glad 61 animals from the SPCA and five from the Lamma Animal Welfare Centre and Companion Animal Federation found homes in the Pet Adoptathon programme this year.

Besides dogs and cats, six rabbits, a chinchilla, a hamster and one bird were adopted.

On April 30 and May 1, 1,772 people came to three adoption centres, compared with 1,300 last year. Some visitors plan to come back and adopt animals in a few months.

The adoptathon concept was introduced from the US. Every year, one weekend will be chosen for promotions to encourage people to adopt abandoned animals. The SPCA has hosted this programme since 2002.

Last year, 49 animals were homed by our efforts. The numbers are growing. More people are becoming aware of pet ownership, and some people would like to offer charity.

From April last year to March, the SPCA received 1,000 animals abandoned by their owners. During the same period, we homed 2,433 animals. Ten years ago, there was only the SPCA, but now we can see other organisations finding homes for animals.

It is rewarding for me to see more people pay attention to these animals. The public, newspapers, radio and pet-food companies are very supportive. Furthermore, people from different walks of life applied for the volunteer work. In this year's adoptathon, about 30 volunteers joined.

Volunteers come at weekends, no matter how busy they are. They feed and care for all the animals. Puppies will be taken out for walks and sometimes given a little training.

In fact, we have staff in charge of dog training. Some bad-tempered dogs will be given special exercises to improve their behaviour. Dogs are pretty naughty. Dogs tumble and struggle as their method of socialisation and interaction.

After all, I do not think the SPCA's cages are good for animals. Cages are temporary homes. What the animals need are warm homes and more individual care.

Volunteers have started taking care of puppies that are either small or very weak. Some puppies have grown very attached to volunteers and ended up being adopted by them. Dogs will miss dogs. Some pet owners will bring their dogs back to the SPCA to visit their dog friends.

We still have a long way to go to raise people's awareness and responsibilities. It's quite natural for people to choose cute, lovely, young puppies and cats. We try to educate people that all animals actually are the same and they have their own strengths. Although some people are willing to adopt injured cats and dogs with broken legs, education has not worked well. Changing people's preference towards energetic and lovely animals is really a tough job.

Some dogs have stayed in the SPCA for eight months and even a year - a long time for a dog. If they aren't adopted when they are small, it is more difficult to home them when they grow bigger.

Long-stay animals put immense pressure on our limited space. We are trying hard to avoid this and are making efforts to find comfortable homes for the animals.

Campaigns and promotions have been carried out to educate people to treat pets kindly, to not abandon them and try hard to desex their pets to decrease the risk of more animals being sent to the SPCA.

I am happy with the achievements of the Pet Adoptathon so far, but I am not satisfied.

The programme should go a step further. I won't be satisfied until every animal has been homed.