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 saw a recording-breaking number of pets finding loving families, that is, 14,883 pets adopted in just a few months. PetRescue 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 still struggling with the financial impacts of the floods in NSW, 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.

Pet Insurance Australia Companion Animal Rescue Awards 2021

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 companion animal welfare and management. In 2020, over 1,000 entries were received and over 140 pieces of coverage. 

In our fourth year, we are delighted to welcome Pet Insurance Australia as our Platinum Rescue Hero & Naming Partner!  This year’s program is called the ‘Pet Insurance Australia Companion Animal Rescue Awards 2021‘. 

A huge thank you to our amazing Judges who donate their time and expertise and our wonderful Supporters from not for profit animal welfare and pet industry.

2021 Categories

There are 10 categories in 2021, with one winner for each category.

Award categories 1 – 8 are for the industry, ie, rescue/shelter/companion animal welfare organisations.  Category 9 is for Aussie pet guardians who have adopted a pet and Category 10 is for foster carers. 

  1. Outstanding Rescue Group (for groups operating over 36 months)
  2. Outstanding New Rescue Group (for groups operating 12 – 36 months)
  3. Outstanding Animal Shelter
  4. Outstanding Council Animal Shelter 
  5. Innovation in Companion Animal Welfare and Management
  6. Community Education and Outreach Program
  7. Volunteer of the Year
  8. Refuel Creative Digital Marketing Award
  9. People’s Rescue Story
  10. 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
  • 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.
  • Dr Anthony Bennett is a veterinarian and co-star of Lifestyle Channel’s TV series Village Vets.
  • Dr Anne Quain is an Animal Welfare Veterinarian. Dr Anne’s blog is
  • 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
  • Diana Rayment, Shelter Supervisor at Second Chance Animal Rescue
  • Jona Osmani, Pet Insurance Australia
  • Barbara Hodel, President of the Pet Professional Guild Australia
  • Stacey Gadway, Pet Diaries Managing Director
  • Andrew Grill, Pragmatic Futurist, technology trends and digital world expert
  • John Kim, Founder and CEO of Silverquest Consulting, Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) Board member
  • 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

The Judges for categories 9 and 10 are:

Key dates

Launch 3 May 2021
Open for entries  3 May 2021
Entries close 31 July 2020
Judging August 2020
Finalists announced 15 September 2021
Winners revealed October 2021

About Pets4Life

Pets4Life provides dog training services in Sydney as well as an independent education resource for cat and dog guardians. Our goal is to help reduce cat and dog surrender and improve pet well-being in Australia. Our mission is to help families make great 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 has a big heart for pet welfare and pet adoption.  Cathy is the Founder of Pets4Life. After over 20 years in the corporate world as a professional marketer, she 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 long-term foster doggie, Twinkle. 

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

About Pet Insurance Australia 

Pet Insurance Australia is a family-owned Australian Pet Insurance business, with a long and successful history in the pet industry. Not only do they have years of experience, but they have an international reputation for excellence. 

Pet Insurance Australia takes pride in that they are not just business owners; they are pet people and pets are part of our daily lives. They strongly believe that being passionate, and developing personal relationships is the key to business success and they have endeavoured to deliver exactly that to their customers. At PIA they treat every pet as if it was our own.

Pet Insurance Australia was launched back in 2008. Since then, PIA has witnessed expressions about financial worries disappear. Seeing first-hand how beneficial pet insurance could be. Today, thousands of customers now benefit from their pets being insured.


Contact us

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

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