Taking on a pet is not a move which should be done lightly, while mandatory chipping would do much to avoid the problem of pet abandonment, the head of one animal shelter told "Vikerhommik" on Tuesday.
Anni Anete Mõisamaa of NGO Varjupaigad, which operates nationwide, told Vikerraadio that "A certain process is prerequisite to adopting a pet It's not quite as simple a process as a person entering a shelter and emerging 10 minutes later with a pet dog."
Some due diligence is thus required, though it is not a background check as such, Mõisamaa said.
"This is not a background check, but rather preliminary work. We cannot do a thorough background check on any individual, and we cannot go to a person's home. Our process starts with their submitting a request. This form already provides us with quite a lot of information about that individual. After that we invite that person to meet us, at the shelter. In the course of that conversation we tend to get a good feel for what kind of person they might be. We have to come to trust this person," she continued.
Mõisamaa said while animals can be returned to a shelter if things do not work out, this happens rarely, in around a couple of percent of cases, or a couple of dozen animals in total, per year.
On the other hand, Mõisamaa recognized that people might face challenges, and that returning an animal is a welcome alternative to simply letting it run wild on the streets.
The adoption fee is €75 for a dog and €35 for a cat and this includes basic procedures such as chipping, neutering and inoculation included in the price.
However, Eliko Melb, a dog trainer and dog therapist, said adopting from a shelter can be more challenging than obtaining a puppy from a breeder, for instance, including behavioral problems or underlying health issues which may end up costing more and/or requiring more training.
Melb speculated that the issue of abandoning dogs may relate to our I-me-mine superficial consumer society; at the same time, Estonian law does not help here, and tend to regard an animal as a "thing," she added.
Mõisamaa noted that compulsory chipping may help with the issue of abandonment.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Annika Remmel
Source: "Vikerhommik", interviewers Kirke Ert and Janek Luts