A pet is not just for lockdown, RSPCA warns

The RSPCA will continue to rehome rescue animals on a delivery basis during the ongoing lockdowns in both England and Wales.

Pets including dogs, cats, rabbits, ferrets and other small furry animals will remain available for adoption as RSPCA centres - now closed to the public - switch to a virtual rehoming and delivery process.

The animal welfare charity has 14 national animal centres across England and Wales - while many of its independent branches also have rehoming facilities switching to a remote process during the latest lockdown restrictions.

Prospective adopters can speak to RSPCA staff and meet animals via video conferencing and photo sharing - with pets then delivered by an RSPCA staff member once the level of commitment has been discussed, rehoming agreed, and a suitable pet found. However, the RSPCA continues to urge people to do their research and ensure they understand the long-term commitment of pet adoption; given ‘lockdown life is not forever.’

Animals in the care of the animal welfare charity are often escaping cruelty or neglect - but can continue to find a second chance of forever home happiness during the current lockdown, with the charity utilising a Covid-secure, remote rehoming process.

England went back into a full national lockdown on January 5. However, abandoned, neglected and mistreated animals continue to come into the care of the RSPCA - so the charity say they are ‘delighted’ to still be able to find homes for pets in a safe, Covid-compliant manner.

RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “As the battle against Covid-19 continues, our centres will once again be closed to the public as we all do our bit to stop the spread of this awful disease.

“However, we are delighted that we will continue to be able to find new homes for animals via a safe and Covid-secure remote process.

“Prospective adopters can meet our knowledgeable and friendly centre staff via video call, and discuss whether adding a rescue pet to their household could be the right long-term decision. 

“We know lockdown life is not forever, so it’s so important people consider whether they are able to meet the needs of pets for the long term.

“There’s loads to think about - and we’d always urge people to do their research and understand the commitment they’re taking on. But if a new pet is right for both you and the animal - a rescue companion is an amazing, rewarding choice and we’d urge anyone interested to check out our Find a Pet website to begin the rehoming journey.”

Since lockdown started, on March 23, to December 31, the RSPCA’s Find a Pet section of the website had 39,835,657 views compared to 23,681,542 in the same period the previous year. This is a rise of 68 per cent.

The RSPCA fostering page had 470,933 visits in this period of 2020 - compared to 136,705 during the same period in 2019 - which is a staggering 244 percent increase.

RSPCA officers have remained on the frontline throughout the pandemic - responding to animal welfare emergencies and coming to the aid of rescue animals like these. 

Meanwhile, RSPCA animal centres have been adjusting to differing Covid-19 restrictions while finding new homes for animals in the charity’s care.  

Since the first lockdown was announced on March 23, up to January 3 of this year, the charity’s dedicated emergency line received 827,596 calls - highlighting that animal welfare problems have not stopped for coronavirus. Prior to Christmas, on December 22, some 3,308 animals were in the RSPCA’s care - including 1,239 at national animal centres. 

Dermot Murphy - head of the RSPCA’s rescue teams - added: “Our officers, rescue teams, animal centres and frontline staff have shown remarkable resilience during this most testing time.

“We are approaching 900,000 calls since the start of the pandemic - which is a stark reminder that animal cruelty did not stop for coronavirus.

“There’s also thousands of animals in our care - but our teams continue to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome in new ways to help as many animals as possible.

“We cannot do this without the help of our amazing supporters - and anyone wishing to donate to the RSPCA can do so online, while there’s also an abundance of advice on looking after pets during the pandemic on our website which we’re urging people to share.” 

Pets pictured from the RSPCA website are for illustrative purposes only and may have been reserved / rehomed.

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