Eddie the budgie was meant to heal a broken heart.
Katrina Wilson, 32, had recently lost her beloved bird Bobby after almost a decade together.
“The house was very quiet and we missed his chattering,” the Adelaide resident says.
Instead, Eddie was “the budgie from hell”.
For two weeks they tried to manage Eddie flying into the sides of his cage, his constant squawking, and inability to eat from a bowl or feeder.
At first Katrina thought he was just adjusting, but his behaviour continued.
And after inviting a local budgerigar expert to their home, he confirmed Eddie’s behaviour was “not normal”.
There are many reasons we might experience pet regret.
While we should always try our best to take responsibility for animals in our care, sometimes we need other options.
Why we have pet regret
One of the most common reasons people give up their pets (whether they want to or not) is moving home, says RSPCA NSW spokesperson Kieran Watson.
“Maybe their lease was up and they can’t find a new premises that allows pets,” he says.
Owners may have financial difficulties, struggle with behavioural issues in the animal, or have simply chosen the wrong kind of pet for them.
“They might have got a working dog, but work full time and live in an apartment,” Mr Watson says.
“And some people might have liked the idea but weren’t aware of everything that goes into owning a pet — it sounded fun and romantic at the time, but the practicalities can wear a bit thin.
“We also hear stories of people not knowing their child was allergic to pets.”
Chantelle from Brisbane thought a ragdoll kitten would be the perfect addition to her growing family.
“A friend of a friend was a breeder and we fell in love with how cute they were, plus we liked that the breed was of a friendly nature,” she says.
But when the affectionate kitten grew to be heavier than their two-year-old, they realised they had a problem.
“The cat would literally lie on top of her at night, and my daughter couldn’t push him off.
“So we had many sleepless nights of having to wake up to her crying because the cat wouldn’t get off her.”
Keeping the cat in different rooms didn’t work out either, only leading to crying and scratching.
“I was heavily pregnant and had this awful thought that this cat that weighed more than a baby would jump into the bassinet and smother my newborn.”
What are the options?
Your first stop should be to contact the RSPCA or similar organisation who can give you some advice, says Mr Watson.
“We have an open-door policy — you can ring us and tell us the situation and we might be able to work with you to help; for example, if you can’t pay for food or vet bills.”
If surrendering is the way forward, they will be happy to take the animal and do their best to rehome it.
But before it comes to rehoming, there are other options if you are experiencing pet regret but hoping to hold onto the animal.
For behavioural issues, Mr Watson recommends consulting with your vet or an animal trainer — and giving it some time.
A bit of distance between you and the animal can also help give you clarity.
“You could put them into a boarding facility [if financially viable] or have family look after it,” Mr Watson says.
“In that space you can realise what life is like without a pet again, and is that better, or do you miss them and want to make it work?”
Both Katrina and Chantelle rehomed their pets.
The budgie expert that visited Katrina and Eddie recommended he be with other birds.
“He suggested that Eddie be rehomed in an aviary where he could mimic the behaviour of other budgies,” Katrina says.
He volunteered at a nursing home, who was open to adopting the budgie.
“He did much better once he had other budgies to mimic,” Katrina says.
Chantelle found a family with two school-aged children for their cat.
“I put an ad up on Gumtree and within a few hours I had so many enquiries — I was able to pick the best home for him.
“They had a ragdoll previously for many years until it died a few years prior and they felt ready to have another one.
“I felt really good about the cat going to their family.
“Don’t just give the pet away to anyone — screen all potential new owners and make sure you are comfortable. The pet’s best interest needs to be a priority also.”
Mr Watson warns against listing animals on websites like Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace.
“It can be hard meeting someone on the internet to know if they are the right fit or telling you the truth.
“We would urge you to look at more official avenues.”
He says your best options for rehoming are contacting the breeder, if that is where the animal was sourced.
“Often they will encourage you to bring it back if you can’t take care of it.”
If you adopted the animal from elsewhere, there are rescue groups that can help.
“There are even breed-specific groups who know what kind of home that breed should go to,” Mr Watson says.
Lastly, you can contact the RSPCA or another animal shelter local to you.
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