Blog by Volunteer Kirsty Leese
News of soaring adoption figures from animal shelters have been circulating in the media after the outbreak of Coronavirus. With various shelters having to shut down as a result of the lockdown, people have been rushing to adopt cats, dogs and other animals. While this is great news for the animals right now, there are possible long-term concerns.
Rise in adoptions
The US has seen a huge rise in adoptions, with Los Angeles and New York City in particular seeing a 70% increase in adoptions since the outbreak of COVID-19.
In the UK, Battersea Dog and Cat home stated that the increased length of time the public have been spending at home has led to many home-owners welcoming rescue animals into their households. The Home revealed that the adoption figures for dog and cats from 16th– 22nd March were more than double that of the previous year. A whopping 156 animals were adopted in just 7 days!
Pets are forever
It’s only natural that spending so much time by ourselves encourages us to consider the benefits of having an animal companion. It’s great to hear that people are choosing to support local animal shelters rather than purchasing from a breeder. However, it’s imperative that we thoroughly consider if we are suited to the life of a pet owner, and that first-time adopters know how they will be able to care for their pets after the lockdown ends. Caring for a dog is a long-term commitment.
Unless you’re a key worker, you’ll be spending a lot of time at home for the next while. This means we have ample time to spend with our animals, whether we are playing with them, grooming them, or training them. The lockdown allows us to leave the house for exercise once every day, meaning that walking the dog can often be the highlight of our current indoor lifestyle. When social distancing restrictions are lifted and we resume our normal working lives, our pets will also have to adjust to a change in their lifestyle. Without constant companionship and our day-long availability, it’s even more important that we factor their needs into our daily lifestyle. Pets are forever, not just for the lockdown.
Increase in abandonment of pets
Unfortunately, contrary to the concerns of panic-adopting, reports from China state that the country has seen an increase in the abandonment of pets. This tragic statistic arises from scaremongering about animals carrying COVID-19 and passing it on to humans. Just like human hands, the virus can live on animal fur for a limited amount of time, but there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that our pets can contract this virus. You are no more likely to get ill from your pet than you are from one of your family members.
Pets are part of our household, and the government have not in any way suggested that we should be distancing ourselves from them. Wash your hands after touching your pets and, if you are self-isolating, avoid as much contact with them as possible – get someone else to care for your dog and avoid contact with outdoor cats as much as possible.
Temporary suspension of adoptions
From the 25th March, the RPSCA stopped all adoptions and the fostering of their rescue animals, as they will care for them themselves during the lockdown and follow government social distancing advice. The Blue Cross, Cats Protection, and other local rescue centres across the UK have also suspended adoptions until the lockdown measures change. These charities still need to provide specialist care for their animals, and staff such as those in the RSPCA are still viewed as key workers. This means that these charities will be facing great financial difficulty through the lockdown and are relying heavily on any donations they can attain. Be sure to support your local animal shelter when and where you can – it doesn’t have to be solely financial support. If you have spare items such as towels, blankets, and toys etc., get in touch with your local rescue centre to see if you can arrange a safe way of donating them. You could even knit blankets yourself if you’re into your crafts – there’s always a way to help.
OneKind supports any prospect pet owner choosing to adopt a pet rather than purchase from a breeder, providing that they are given a safe, loving home and a healthy lifestyle. We have plenty of information available for pet owners during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more here.