The DSPCA reports a sharp rise in rescue animal enquiries but has this warning for pet seekers

A puppy is for life, not just for isolation, discovers Amanda Cassidy 

"It sounds so lovely," admits Gillian Bird, a spokesperson from the DSPCA. "Especially now as everyone is at home. But this is a big commitment and nobody should ever rush out and adopt an animal. Hopefully, soon everything will be back to normal and it isn't fair on an animal to go from being there all the time to leaving them behind when you head back to work."

Gillian's message is to try fostering instead. And even at that, to think long and hard about how much of a huge change to your life that will mean.

"We would always recommend people foster before they adopt anyway. We have all our regular foster families who took all our foster animals including horses and donkeys over this time period. But there are rescue centers all over the country who do desperately need help.


We just want people to be realistic

The caution we give is that often this isn't just about the cuteness of it all. Often these animals need to be brought in for their medications or to get stitches removed. Foster cats have to be indoors. Many might not have their vaccinations yet.

If you are stuck at home in your house with your partner and kids and you add a puppy to the mix, it can be difficult. We just want people to be realistic."


Gillian said there has been a huge increase in inquiries since people are spending more time at home. "Having a pet dog or cat is amazing but I just want to remind people that this is about more than just borrowing an animal for a few weeks. There is the poop to pick up, litter trays are emptied a few times a day, it takes time and patience to welcome an animal into your home."

The DSPCA and similar rescue centers have all had their share of challenges since the COVID-19 pandemic. "All our transition year work experience students had to cancel. We usually have 12 students a week and now they don't get their experience. We only have staff working but that might also change.

"We obviously can't do the school talks or tours, our education to prevent cruelty is restricted. Our dog training is on hold, we have a business for doggie daycare and pet boarding which is the big income for the charity — 100% of profits go into the charity and pay for the work that we do. It has been a big financial hit for us.


The charity has also had to stop its mobile vet clinic too.

And what about the cruelty cases? Has that had to stop too?

"We have to limit cruelty cases" explains Gillian. "Instead we do it now on a case by case basis. It is a matter of limiting how many people we have entering other people's homes."


So, if you do decide that fostering is for you, or you have a pet at home already, here are some tips to help your furry friend while we are all staying home.

"Obviously if you can exercise your dog, do as much as possible but be cautious. Don't excessively exercise the animal — that's to avoid injury if possible. Make sure you have the emergency contact number for your vet handy. Ideally you should have a month's worth of medication and food for your animal in your house just to be safe — there is no harm in having that.


On a more serious note, it isn't the end of the world if your dog doesn't get out if you are unwell. Have some kind of backup plan if you are sick and you can't mind your pet.

Park life

"Respect social distancing if you are out and about with your dog. The kids usually all want to pet the dog. There doesn't seem to be evidence that they can catch coronavirus, but we don't want to take any risks when it comes to people coughing and petting a dog, who then goes home with its elderly owner. Use common sense.

"Pets are amazing, great company and the more time you spend the better. Bear in mind that if you are home a lot now, it is confusing for your pet and will take them time to adjust.

"You might notice behvioural issues. But try to work with them, make sure to give them their own personal space (especially cats)."

Finally, Gillian says it is also a great opportunity to take the time to train your dog to sit and stay. "And bear in mind that when all this is over and everyone is back to work, it will be hard on pets now left at home."

You can find more information on the DSPCA here. 


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