RSPCA rescue cat

RSPCA takes to showgrounds for Big Adopt Out


More than 300 puppies, kittens, cats and dogs will take over Brisbane’s RNA Showgrounds on Saturday for the RSPCA’s Big Adopt Out, giving attendees the chance to fall in love with a new furry friend.

RSPCA rescue cat
Rescue groups hope having a large number of cats and dogs at the one location will help more people find their perfect four-legged friend. Photo: RSPCA Queensland

The event, which brings together more than 20 animal rescue groups, gives visitors the chance to meet and adopt a new four-legged friend.

Animals will be arriving from rescue groups and welfare organisations around Queensland to take part in the event, which aims to provide a wide variety of cats and dogs with “forever homes” and a second chance at life.

There will also be food vendors on site, plus vet advice, pet service stalls and pet products to get the new fur families started on the right paw.

RSCPA Queensland spokesperson Michael Beatty says the Big Adopt Out is an important day for Queensland’s rescue animals.

“Obviously it gives these animals a second chance and that’s what’s really important, and they get a chance of going into a loving home where they’ll hopefully be able to spend the rest of their lives,” Mr Beatty says.

He says the turnout at the Big Adopt Out is constantly growing, with more animals adopted each year.

“I think last year, from memory, we had about 160 animals were rehomed,” Mr Beatty says.

“Which is terrific,” he says.

Organisers hope that by putting as many cats and dogs as possible at the one venue, more people will find their perfect pet match.

Which is certainly what happened to Ken Fern, who attended last year’s Big Adopt Out event.

“At the time, we were looking to get a pet because I was going through quite a lot of anxiety and depression, stuff like that after having a few car accidents back to back,” Mr Fern says.

“And we’d heard about the benefits of having a dog [for] people who go through that sort of stuff,” he says.

That’s when Mr Fern met Sapphire at Big Adopt Out 2017, a special blonde Bullmastiff cross Shar Pei, who is now just over a year old.

“So, we were going to go there just have a look and see what was available then, yeah, we went down there and she sort of picked us really,” he says.

Mr Fern says Sapphire made all the difference, making him happier, livelier and changing his whole perspective on life.

“I can’t believe the difference she’s made in having [someone] just to sit with, just to watch while she’s playing or doing something naughty, just to look after,” he says.

“It’s just given me a bit of focus back and she’s certainly livened up my life.”

“I was very, very down and she’s made me smile.”

Sapphire has already inspired Mr Fern and his family to adopt another dog.

A few months after finding Sapphire they brought home another rescue dog, Zoe, a light brown mixed breed who was the perfect fit for the family.

Ken Fern and his rescue dog Zoe
Zoe the rescue dog was a perfect fit for Ken Fern and his family. Photo: Ken Fern

“Actually, the kids get a bit annoyed with me because when I come home at night I’ll say ‘hello’ to Hannah and ‘hello’ to Joe and ‘hello’ to my wife and then Sapphire and Zoe will come running up over and I’ll be like ‘Hello my babies! How are you sweethearts?’, Mr Fern says.

“I’ve just gone so soft,” he says.

“Like, I’m a tradie.

“I’m a carpenter by trade, 40 years old.

“I used to consider myself a man’s kinda man, but since we’ve had the dogs I’ve gone so soft.”

Not only are attendees given the chance to rehome a new four-legged friend at the Big Adopt Out, but some of the rescue organisations will also provide ongoing support, answering any questions and queries the new pet owners might have after taking their four-legged friend home.

Mr Fern says he kept in contact with Precious Paws Animal Rescue, the organisation he purchased Sapphire from, using Facebook and Instagram.

“And it’s really good because even though they do a lot for you upfront, if you’ve got any questions you just contact them and they’re more than happy to help you out,” he says.

“It’s been really good because Sapphire was actually my first dog.”

Precious Paws Animal Rescue is one of more than 20 rescue organisations that will hold adoption stalls at the Big Adopt Out.

Other organisations that will be holding stalls at the event include Kitten Kapers Rescue, Greyhounds New Beginnings and Beagle Rescue QLD.

Attendees who decided to adopt will go through a rigorous but straightforward adoption process at the event.

Precious Paws Animal Rescue transport coordinator Tracie Kachel says the application process goes through where applicants live, whether they’ve got other pets, what kind of fencing they have, and considerations such as whether dogs will be inside or outside or both.

Ms Kachel says it’s important for people to think about where the animal will sleep and that they will need to exercise their pet if they get a dog.

She says it is also important to make sure the personality of the dog is compatible with the potential adopters.

Ms Rachel says it can be useful for people planning to adopt a pet to bring along images of their home and yard.

“My advice to people would be to have their fence photos and their yard photos on their phone when they go to Big Adopt Out day,” Ms Kachel says.

Puppies at Big Adopt Out
These mixed breed puppies will be looking for a happy “forever” home at this year’s Big Adopt Out. Photo: Precious Paws

The process may seem excessive, but Ms Kachel says it’s all worth it in the end.

“Dogs make a happy environment or they keep a happy environment,” she says.

“A dog’s always happy to see you.

“It doesn’t matter what mood you’re in or what’s going on.

“They don’t care.

“It’s all about their people.

“So they do, they change a life for people, for families.”

Ms Kachel says rescue organisations like Precious Paws microchip, de-sex, and provide any necessary medical treatment before sending the animals home from the Big Adopt Out.

She says while the concept of providing an animal with a “forever home” may seem daunting to some people, rescue organisations are aware that circumstances can change for people, and she believes the thorough application process decreases the chances of pets returning to shelters.

“I think because of our process of adoptions that we’re fairly robust in so far as that doesn’t happen a lot to Precious Paws,” Ms Kachel says.

“Certainly, if something happens where they can no longer have the dog, look after the dog, whatever, they always have the opportunity to call us and say ‘my circumstances have changed, I need to get this dog rehomed’,” she says.

“We’ll certainly assist where we can and we’ll never send away a Precious Paws dog, that’s for sure.”

RSCPA Queensland spokesperson Michael Beatty says the RSPCA doesn’t give up on those animals that aren’t rehomed at Big Adopt Out.

“The animals that aren’t adopted go back to the shelters or the different rescue organisations and the hunt for a new home continues.”

The RSPCA’s Big Adopt Out takes place on Saturday September 15 at the Brisbane Showgrounds from 9am to 2pm.

For more information visit the Big Adopt Out website.

Jake Day

I am a third year journalism student at Griffith Nathan completing an internship at ABC Brisbane.

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