One of the few positive news developments during the COVID-19 lockdown was that many animal shelters reported being empty for the first time ever, as people decided to adopt a pet during this time. But sadly, this situation did not last long.
Shelters around the world are now reporting the backlash that animal welfare organisations were so worried about, with animals who were adopted during this time now being returned to the shelters.
In addition, existing pets are also under threat of being relinquished because of the economic situation, and many puppies and kittens who were bought online, at premium prices, during this time are being re-advertised for sale.
In Tasmania alone, it has been reported that puppy scammers have tricked over $40,000 from people during COVID-19.
When pet acquisition is not thought through carefully, it can quickly turn into a situation where the animal suffers. This is the case with COVID-19 lockdowns where many pets have been bought to keep their new owners occupied during this time, with little thought given to how they will be cared for going forward.
A pet is not just there to serve the needs of their owner, they are individuals with specific needs that need to be fulfilled. We have a duty to care for our pets for their entire lives.
FOUR PAWS tips to help you keep your pet during these uncertain times:
- Change in situation: If your situation changes after lockdown, consider what your pet needs, as this is also a very uncertain time for them. Is it a situation where you must go back to work and need someone to take care of your pet during the day? If so, ask your company if you can bring your pet into work, or if you can work from home (many companies are now realising that this has benefits both for their staff and the company). Alternatively, there are doggy day-care centres, or family, friends and neighbours who may be willing to take care of your pet during working hours.
- Economic situation: A pet costs money. They need food, a bed, toys, veterinary care etc; If you are faced with a situation where your financial situation has drastically changed, it can be hard to cope. Of course, we all hope that the economic situation will stabilise soon, but until then there are some things you can do to make the burden less stressful. For example, support is available in many countries to help you take care of your pet, such as food banks who often offer pet food, there are also charities who may be able to help with veterinary bills or short term sheltering depending on your situation. Do not forget to ask family and friends for help, people understand these are difficult times and most people will help in times of need.
- Finding a new home for your pet: If you are still finding it hard to cope and need to find a new home for your pet, then first ask family and friends if they can help, it is always best to find someone you know and trust to take care of your pet. If this is not possible, then find a reputable rehoming organisation, making sure that you check their rehoming and euthanasia policy before relinquishing your pet.
COVID-19 has hit us all harder than we could have imagined. Our pets give us a lot during these troubled times, they comfort us, they are our mental support, so it is up to us to make sure that they are properly taken care of now and in the future.