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Pets

Rescue that pet!

Unfortunately, there are a lot of pets in this country whose futures aren't very bright. Thirty-eight percent of dogs and nearly 60 percent of cats that the RSPCA received in 2002-2003 were euthanised because suitable homes could not be found. According to Say No To Animals in Pet Shops Incorporated, an estimated 130,000 dogs and 60,000 cats are euthanised in Australia every year (an approximate figure based on data from pounds and RSPCA figures). That's a lot of animals whose lives are ended prematurely through no fault of their own. The good news is that now it's even easier to adopt a homeless pet. Twenty-five-year-old Perth-based Michelle Williamson came up with the idea of an online resource for animal rescue groups and prospective pet owners. The result of Michelle's brainwave, www.petrescue.com.au, lets animal shelters around the country post profiles of animals available for adoption on the PetRescue website for people to browse through. "I could see a real need for consolidation amongst rescue groups to make it easier for adopters to find their new pet," says Michelle, who set up the site with her computer wizard fiancée, JB. "People had to look all over the place and visit many different shelters, most of which operate independently." "With PetRescue, they can visit the one website and see what animals are available for adoption all over the country, without even leaving their home," explains Michelle. "And since the site is updated constantly, adopters will always be able to see the most up-to-date animal listings, with new animals being added all the time." "I also wanted to change people's perceptions of shelter animals," adds Michelle. "Most aren't abused or aggressive, but were bought by the wrong person who wasn't prepared to make the commitment to them and they have ended up homeless. Sometimes their owner fell sick or had to move into a retirement home that didn't allow pets. If you look through our pages, you'll find a collection of the most wonderful pets, all of which would absolutely thrive in a loving home." PetRescue has been up and running for three months and Michelle is very pleased with its progress. The website has already had 3.5 million hits and a number of animals and owners have happily started a new life together. "We figured if we saved even one animal, it would be worth it," says Michelle. "With over 300 re-homed in under three months, we've been very happy with the results!" Besides giving a deserving animal another chance, there are other benefits of adopting a homeless animal. "Most shelter workers are passionate and knowledgeable professionals who feel responsible for the future happiness of both the animal and the new owner," says Michelle. "Most dogs are health and temperament tested and often come with a full history from the previous owner. Rescue groups screen adopters vigorously to ensure they are committed and that the animal goes to the best home possible. Many offer extra help and advice, including information packs and training classes. With all this additional support, you and your new pet are destined to have a fantastic new life together!" Even if you can't adopt a pet from PetRescue, the website has other ways in which you can help animal shelters and their furry inhabitants. On PetRescue you can find out about fostering animals (looking after them until a new home if found), volunteering at shelters, sponsoring an animal and donating goods to help with the care of shelter animals. As for the future, PetRescue is working with rescue groups to incorporate more features that will assist their work and Michelle says there are lots of new features on the way. "It's great to hear about each of our animals that have been rehomed and the people who have adopted them," says Michelle. "Soon we will be launching a feedback area on the site, where people who have adopted an animal can post about their experiences and include some happy snaps. We love to see those fuzzy grins!" Visit PetRescue at www.petrescue.com.au

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