More cats than dogs abandoned during coronavirus pandemic

It seems that dogs are beating cats as a lockdown favourite companion animal. The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) carried out a survey on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on animal rescue organisations in eight jurisdictions in the UK and Ireland.

Manchester Animal Shelter
Millstream Animal Shelter, Clayton Bridge, Manchester. Photo: Wikipedia Commons. Photographer: Linden Milner.
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Dog and cat abandonments

Cats were more likely to be abandoned than dogs after lockdown according to the survey which encompassed 130 animal rescue homes in the UK in April. Fifteen percent of the rescue centres saw a drop in the number of dogs dumped in the first month of lockdown while only 8% had to take in more dogs than normal. By contrast, they saw a 70% rise in the number of cats abandoned while only 7% saw a drop in the number of cats abandoned.

The situation regarding domestic cats became worse as the lockdown continued. More cats were abandoned in May, June and July than in April. It appears that dogs were the preferred animal to have as a companion during lockdown and people are apparently keeping hold of them. David Bowles, a trustee of ADCH said that they saw an interest in cats during lockdown but then people started to abandon them more as lockdown continued. “People wanted a companion and they saw dogs as a good one”.

Other issues noted by the survey

Two thirds of animal rescue centres in the UK reported that more people wish to foster dogs and cats because of the pandemic and 35% wish to rehome a dog or a cat.

Ninty-five percent of rescues said that the coronavirus pandemic affected their work and their ability to operate. Five percent said that it didn’t have an effect. Eighty-seven percent said that they had to stop rehoming animals and 71% closed their shelters to the public. Fifty-four percent of all animal rescue centres stopped taking in animals during the lockdown while 46% are still taking in animals.

The cost of running animal rescues has gone up because they are accepting dogs and cats but rehoming has just restarted. All of the rescue centres said that the restrictions of lockdown had a big impact on fundraising; 55% reported a drop in income of over 50% while 20% had a drop of income between 20 and 50%.

All centres cancelled fundraising events and 57% closed their shops. Thirty-two percent said that they had reduced staffing levels using the government’s furlough scheme. Eighty-five percent said that there had been a reduction in volunteers. A little over half said that they had enough funds to continue to operate for three months. Almost a third had less then three months funds, 5% could survive for a month and 13% reported that they couldn’t say how long the funds would last.

One fifth said that they applied for grants but those with three months reserves were being penalised (by I presume not receiving grants). Eight out of ten rescues said that they had dramatically reduced neutering and micro-chipping services. They believe that there has been an increase in illegal non-microchip dogs in the country.

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