Do you live with a companion adopted from a shelter, pound or animal rescue organisation?
Many Australian families acquire animals from these sources, but aren't necessarily aware of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to ensure that every animal finds a safe, secure forever home.
The Pet Insurance Australia Companion Animal Rescue Awards were introduced in 2017 by Cathy Beer, Founder of Pets4Life, to recognise the critical work of animal shelters, council pounds, foster carers, grass-roots animal rescue organisations and pet adopters.
They are Australia's first and only national awards program for this work.
I've been volunteering as a judge for the awards since the get go, as I believe we need to reward those organisations striving to refine their processes and maximise the welfare of the animals they rescue.
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Having worked with a number of rescue organisations, I also have some insight into just how much work is involved in assessing, admitting, treating, rehabilitating and preparing animals for a new home.
From the heartbreaking job of assisting those who, through no fault of their own, must surrender a cherished companion animal, to performing veterinary checks, fostering the young or timid animals so that they can recover from trauma and adapt to life in a home environment, to feeding and cleaning and walking and playing - animal rescue is hard work.
Just like rest of us, the pet rescue sector has been adversely impacted by the pandemic, disruption to supply chains, increase operating expenses and in some regions, flooding which has required evacuation and relocation of animals.
Yet staff and volunteers continue to do work to ensure that all animals are "rescued" - whether it is reuniting a lost pet with worried owners, fostering animals who require medical treatment, providing subsidised desexing and vaccinations, lobbying for more pet-friendly rental accommodation, and above all caring for animals as they await adoption.
In establishing the awards, Cathy has sought to help rescue organisations benchmark their practices, celebrate the successes and acknowledge this often invisible labour of love. This year there will be eight awards for animal rescue organisations.
You can encourage your favourite animal rescue organisation to apply by tagging them with the hashtag #PIARescueawatds2022
In addition, the Ivory Coat People's Rescue Story is open to any Australian who has adopted a rescue animal and gives you a chance to tell the story of how you met and what your companion means to you.
The Ivory Coat Foster Carer Story is open to foster carers of companion animals.
The judging is rigorous. I am one of a 21-strong panel of judges who will be reviewing the many entries.
This is a joyful task. There are so many people out there will great ideas about how we can improve the lives of companion animals while they are in care and reduce the risks of them needing to be rescued in the first place. We need to recognise and amplify those ideas.
Nominations are open until midnight AEST on July 31, 2022. To enter, visit www.rescueawards.com.au
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