The effect of Covid on Animal Shelters
The financial hardship of animal ownership is hitting many people hard. With Covid-related unemployment or reduced income, feeding and caring for pets can suddenly become a struggle. Caring for a sick animal can be expensive, and many people resort to surrendering their animals to rescue centres when they feel they can’t cope. This has put an enormous strain on animal shelters with overcrowding, both of healthy and sick animals.
With many more animals to care for, several organizations (like the KSPCA) that rely on membership fees and donations are facing dire realities. The Covid pandemic has affected the level of drop-in donations, food donations and the possibility of fund-raising. Due to restrictions, shelters have had to restrict the number of volunteers helping, so staff has been pushed to its limits.
Overcrowding at shelter facilities is not only a financial issue, but a medical one. Many contagious diseases thrive in situations where there are too many animals in close contact. Slower adoption rates and a backlog of neutering surgeries compounds the issue. Many puppies and kittens that haven’t been vaccinated in time succumb to contagious diseases. KSPCA relies heavily on amazing foster parents who take care of the very young puppies and kittens that would not survive without constant care and attention. But as no vaccine is 100% effective, even vaccinated animals can occasionally catch diseases in certain circumstances, such as overcrowding and stress.
The quick diagnosis of contagious diseases is often impossible, as simple SNAP tests (that give immediate results) are generally not available in Kenya or are not affordable for continuous shelter use. As space is limited, all new animal intakes cannot be isolated into areas on their own to make sure they are not contagious. This all means that disease outbreaks are common and stretches both the medical and kennel staff to their limits.
How can you help?
- Please exhaust all other avenues before surrendering your pet to a shelter. Pets are sentient beings and will suffer greatly from being abandoned.
- If possible, consider adopting an older or mildly injured pet from the shelter. Many of our animals have had hard lives and respond well to human kindness and become loyal pets.
- Ask about becoming a foster parent to our young kittens and puppies
- When visiting shelter facilities, please follow instructions and signs to avoid spreading diseases in your clothes and footwear. Wash hands frequently and don’t enter any cages without permission.
- Any donations, food, blankets and other materials are always appreciated!
Article by Dr. Laura Wessman