Pet shops and shelters cleared of animals as British people seek company during coronavirus lockdown

Battersea Dogs and Cats home rehomed more than double their usual amount of animals last week

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Marc Abraham, the vet who found Dilyn for Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds, said Britons should adopt a pet during lockdown
Marc Abraham, the vet who found Dilyn for Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds, said Britons should foster a pet during lockdown Credit:  REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Pet shelters and shops were cleared of their animals last week as people looked for a companion as the threat of lockdown loomed.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home reported they rehomed more than double the dogs and cats they did over a similar time period last year, and visitors to Pets at Home claimed the shops were running low on hamsters.

Last week, 86 dogs and 69 cats left Battersea for a new life with their owners. During the same week last year, 42 dogs and 29 cats found new homes. Even long-term residents which the shelter had found it hard to re-home were snapped up, with one dog, Tulip, finding a home after 110 days in a kennel.

Battersea’s Head of Operations, Rob Young, said: “We want to thank all these new owners for thinking of rescue pets at such a challenging time.

“All three of our Battersea centres are now closed to the public, but many of our animals are now in loving homes or out on temporary foster with our staff and volunteers. Battersea are still caring for around 100 animals at our three centres and working hard to ensure each and every dog and cat continues to get the treatment, care, love, play and interaction they need."

The Mayhew charity in London said locals had stepped in to foster cats and take pressure off the shelter during the lockdown. 

A spokesperson said: "We've actually had to wind down the majority of our day to day operations at Mayhew in order to best protect our staff and animals, so given that we are unable to facilitate in-person adoption interviews or home visits, and they fact that people across the UK are now only supposed to leave their homes for essential purposes only, we are actually experiencing a natural downturn in interest.

"We have however had an influx of messages from people interested in fostering our shelter animals, to give them (and our staff!) a little bit of reprieve from the ongoing situation!"

People visiting Pets at Home shops last week said the stores were running low on hamsters. A spokesperson said that the shops have now ceased selling animals and are focusing on supplying existing pet owners with supplies for the duration of the lockdown.

British people have been told this is the "perfect time" to foster an animal as many are working from home so will have more time to spend with a pet.

Celebrity vet and pet adoption advocate Marc Abraham, who matched Dilyn the Downing Street Dog with Carrie Symonds, said people should look into fostering during quarantine.

He told The Telegraph: "It's a good time to utilise the power of pet therapy, many people are struggling with this new way of life, to have some company, to have some routine, to have one long dog walk as the government allows lets you not only improve your life but save another one.

"If you already have a dog you could look into rehoming one of the ex breeding dogs being abandoned because of Lucy's Law coming in as they can only be rehomed with another dog. Friends of Animals Wales, where Carrie Symonds got her dog from is still looking for good homes. It would be an amazing time to bond and spend time with a new dog. What a great opportunity."

Cats Protection have seen a sixfold increase in offers to foster their cats. A spokesperson said: "Since the first confirmed cases of coronavirus in the UK, Cats Protection has seen an increase in the number of people offering to foster unwanted cats. During this month alone our Head Office has received over 250 offers to foster for us, which is more than six times the number we would normally see at this time of year and does not include our network of volunteer-run branches and centres who also receive enquiries.

"We are heartened that so many cat lovers across the UK are considering how they can be of help to our feline friends though at this time our volunteer recruitment is on hold so that we can focus on looking after the cats in our care and providing advice and support to our existing volunteers and the general public. We thank everyone for their support and ask them to continue to visit www.cats.org.uk for the latest updates and information."