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Media Information Sheet

Pet ownership and rescue in Australia

There are more than 24 million pets in Australia today. Australia continues to have one of the highest household rates of pet ownership in the world. In 2016, 59% of cats were acquired through re-homing organisations, friends, or neighbours and as strays. 33% of dogs were acquired through re-homing organisations, friends, or neighbours. (source: Pet Ownership in Australia 2016 Report). Sadly, every year, around 190,000 dogs and cats are left unclaimed in Australia’s pounds and shelters. (Source:

Thanks to the great work done by not for profit rescue groups and animal shelters over the last decade, the rate of adoption has steadily increased and the rate of euthanasia has decreased in Australia. PetRescue helps rescue organisations reach the pet-seeking public by getting their adoptable pets online. Their website now receives 250 searches a minute (before the Coronavirus arrived in Australia) from families around Australia who want to adopt a cat or dog or another companion animal.

COVID-19 and pet adoption

The start of 2020 has seen extraordinary outcomes for pet adoption from the impact of the Coronavirus. The PetRescue website has seen a recording-breaking number of pets finding loving families, that is, 14,883 pets adopted in just a few months. They had a 200% increase in enquiries, and 1,557, 886 visitors to their website! More on these phenomenal statistics from PetRescue.

While rescue groups and animal shelters are experiencing some of the highest ever adoption rates, these rehoming organisations are also struggling with the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic following the devastating bushfires.  Rescue groups and animal shelters urgently need donations to maintain their operations to help families and their pets facing hardship.  It is hard to say now whether the pet surrender rate will steadily rise again to pre-COVID-19 levels because families are facing financial hardship from reduced employment or other reasons.

About the Jetpets Companion Animal Rescue Awards 2020

The Companion Animal Rescue Awards (Rescue Awards) a Pets4Life initiative, whose mission is to recognise and celebrate outstanding examples of rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of companion animals Australia wide. The Rescue Awards is a for purpose, national program.  It is the platform to recognise achievements and innovation in rescue. In 2019, over 1,000 entries were received and over 70 pieces of media coverage.

In our third year, we welcome back our Platinum Rescue Hero & Naming Partner, Jetpets. We’re excited to introduce two new categories, ‘Refuel Digital Technology Award’ for industry and the ‘Drontal® Foster Carer Story’ for foster carers. We’re delighted to introduce our Ambassador, Lara Shannon. This year we have 20 amazing Judges including Bondi Vet Coast to Coast, Dr Alison Shen, who donate their time and expertise.  Thank you to our wonderful Supporters from not for profit animal welfare and pet industry.

2020 Categories

There are 10 categories in 2020, with one winner for each category. Award categories 1 – 8 are for industry.  Category 9 is for Aussie pet guardians who have adopted or fostered a pet.

  1. Outstanding Rescue Group
  2. Outstanding New Rescue Group (new in 2019)
  3. Outstanding Animal Shelter
  4. Outstanding Council Animal Shelter
  5. Innovation in Rescue
  6. Community Education and Outreach Program
  7. Volunteer of the Year
  8. Refuel Digital Technology Award
  9. Advocate® People’s Rescue Story
  10. Drontal® Foster Carer Story


The judges for award categories 1 – 8 are:

  • Nell Thompson is Coordinator for Getting To Zero (G2Z) whose mission is to reduce the number of treatable cat and dogs being euthanased in Australia.
  • Emeritus Professor Jacquie Rand, Australian Pet Welfare Foundation
  • Dr Alison Shen, Veterinarian and Co-Star of Bondi Vet Coast to Coast
  • Vickie Davy, Co-Founder and joint CEO of PetRescue, a not for profit organisation that brings thousands of rescue pets face-to-face with thousands of potential adopters every day.
  • Tim Vasudeva is Director of Corporate Affairs at Animals Australia. Tim spent two and a half years volunteering full-time with PetRescue and the Sydney Dogs and Cats Home, before he was appointed CEO of Animal Welfare League NSW in 2011 and subsequently CEO of RSPCA South Australia from 2013 to 2017.
  • Bondi Vet Dr Alex Hynes, an emergency veterinarian in Brisbane
  • Dr Anthony Bennett is a veterinarian and co-star of Lifestyle Channel’s TV series Village Vets.
  • Sandy Matheson is Founder & Managing Director of Jetpets, a pet travel company focused on the safety, comfort, and welfare of pets.
  • Dr Anne Fawcett is an Animal Welfare Veterinarian. Dr Anne’s blog is
  • Dr Michael O’Donoghue is a small animal veterinarian and Co-Founder of People and Pets, a nationwide pet loss counselling service.
  • Anne Boxhall, Companion animal welfare advocate with 28 years’ experience in sheltering and rescue
  • Dr Joanne Righetti,PhD animal behaviourist, Pet Problems Solved
  • Brooke Rankmore, CEO of AMRRIC
  • Dr Vanessa Rohlf, Compassion Fatigue Therapist
  • Ryan Jones, Founder and CEO of Refuel Creative
  • Brittany Bloomer, Founder of charity, Pound Paws
  • Annette Hughes, Founder of Where Pets Are Found
  • Tara O’Connell, Creator of the Pet Diaries App
  • Elliot Chapman, Customer Success Manager at HubSpot

The Judges for categories 9 and 10 are:

Key dates

Launch April 2020
Open for entries 1 May 2020
Entries close 31 July 2020
Judging August 2020
Finalists announced 16 September 2020
Winners revealed October 2020

About Pets4Life

Pets4Life is an independent education resource for cat and dog guardians and those who are thinking of getting a cat or dog. Our goal is to help reduce cat and dog surrender and improve pet well-being in Australia. Our mission is to help families make better choices and become even better pet guardians. Pets4Life’s eGuide: Before You Get A Dog – 8 essential tips to get it right has received over 3,000 views and a very positive response from families, councils and veterinarians.

Cathy Beer is the Founder of Pets4Life. After over 20 years in the corporate world as a professional marketer, Cathy pursued her passion for pet welfare and created Pets4Life in 2013 after interviewing leaders in the companion animal welfare space. Cathy has given a number of presentations at pet events.

Cathy is an accredited professional dog trainer with qualifications from the Delta Institute of Australia. Cathy is a voluntary member of Willoughby Council’s Companion Animals Committee and a voluntary instructor at the Sydney All Breeds Dog Club.  She lives in Sydney with her husband John and two foster doggies, Twinkle and Fluffy.

‘Every animal deserves a good life, not just a life of existence’ – Pets4Life’s manifesto.

About Jetpets

Jetpets are Australia’s leading pet travel experts. Their in house team of pet travel consultants, pet handlers and resident vets have been caring for people’s beloved pets for over 28 years. Setting the highest standards of care for pets travelling interstate and overseas, the Jetpets team love nothing more than reuniting and bringing families together. Jetpets provide a complete pet travel service, taking care of everything involved in transporting a pet from their home to their final destination. For helpful information on pet travel visit, or to speak with an experienced pet travel consultant on 1300 668 309.

Contact us

For media enquiries, please contact:
Cathy Beer, Pets4Life on 0419 296 656 or   or
Caroline Zambrano, Pet Journo on 0403 550 730 or

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