Animal shelters are overwhelmed with the number of animals surrendered. Picture: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)
Animal shelters are overwhelmed with the number of animals surrendered. Picture: Armand Hough / African News Agency (ANA)

Animal organisations face dire times due to the impact of Covid 19

By Shanice Naidoo Time of article published Jul 14, 2021

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Cape Town - Animal shelters in the Western Cape have been under severe strain since Covid-19 hit South Africa.

Operations manager for TEARS Animal Rescue Mandy Store said the four low-income communities that they serve, namely Masiphumelele, Ocean View, Redhill and Vrygrond, as well as surrounding areas, are severely affected economically by Covid-19, and as a result, are struggling financially, and they cannot feed and care for their pets anymore.

“We have had a 40% increase in admissions to TEARS since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, with the main reason given for surrendering as ‘I am not able to afford to feed my pets’. These surrendered animals are admitted mostly due to the fact that the owners are unable to feed their pets anymore. We have seen a similar increase in the number of stray animals entering the shelter due to either being abandoned or displaced due to scavenging for food,” said Store.

TEARS has a waiting list for unwanted pets to come into the shelter as and when they can make space available.

They have sent out more than 20 tonnes of dog and cat food to support and help feed the animals in these four communities they serve through Mobile Clinic Outreach Programme since the pandemic has started.

“First quarter into the new financial year, and we already have taken in 35% of projected admissions to our shelter for the year. We have substantially increased our financial budgets for the veterinary clinic to be able to support these communities with affordable and subsidised veterinary treatments. We have increased our sponsored free sterilisations to these communities to prevent unwanted animals from being born on the streets to a life of suffering,” said Store.

Animal Welfare Society of South Africa spokesperson Allan Perrins said they have had to cancel or significantly scale down on events and outreach initiatives due to lockdown restrictions and out of concern for the health of their employees.

Adoption viewings are by appointment only, which cancels out any spontaneous visits to the Animal Care Centre.

“We have had to invest and spend a substantial amount of unbudgeted funds on PPE to keep everyone safe. We have had to temporarily suspend our services twice due to at-risk frontline staff contracting Covid-19. The demand for our range of services has steadily climbed since the start of the lockdown and continues to grow day-by-day as more and more households face economic ruin,” said Perrins.

They have had to do things differently. Face-to-face meetings have been substituted with virtual or digital options. This has severely hampered fundraising efforts.

The Society has come to accept that most of the pet owner beneficiary constituencies are unable to make any sort of co-contribution towards the treatment costs of their pets.

Everything takes that much longer due to strict health and safety protocols.

“Over the past six months, we have conducted 5 469 consultations and seen a lot more patients referred to us from organisations battling to keep afloat or organisations that have had to curtail their services. The number of pets surrendered as unwanted has more than doubled since January,” said Perrins.

Weekend Argus

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