Sunday, September 26

As the lockdown lifts, pandemic pet lovers prove to be good weather friends


This Jack Russell Terrier, named Patch, is going to get some exercise and attention with a Battersea dog trainer.

The four-year-old cub arrived at the London Animal Rescue Center earlier this month, after being found as a stray.

He, and many others like him, are now an attractive property, thanks to a surge in demand for relocation linked to the pandemic.

Chief Executive Peter Laurie says the charity rehoused nearly all of the animals in its care last March, when the coronavirus pandemic swept the country and people in lockdown sought company.

In a week last March, Battersea, which has three centers in London, Berkshire and Kent, relocated 155 dogs and cats, the best result they have had in more than a decade. They have received thousands of requests a week since then.

“When the pandemic started in March last year, we saw an extraordinary demand for relocation, we had queues of people desperate to adopt a dog or a cat,” he says.

“And we were able to relocate almost all of the animals in our care in the space of a couple of weeks, which was great.”

But that is now beginning to change.

Laurie says they are now starting to see so-called “pandemic pets” start to be abandoned, as England lifts its latest COVID-19 lockdown.

“As people gradually return to the offices, people also start thinking about taking a vacation. I think, very sadly, we will see people return their cats and dogs,” he says.

“A lot of people bought puppies very early in the pandemic, those puppies will have grown into adult dogs by now. And some of those behaviors may get a little more challenging now, and people may think that now it’s getting too difficult. So, sadly, I think we will see a rebound in resignation. “

Earlier this month, authorities in England allowed shops, gyms, hair salons, restaurant patios and beer gardens to reopen after months of closure.

Indoor eating and drinking will not be allowed in England until May 17 at the earliest, and theaters, cinemas, nightclubs and most other venues are closed, while indoor socializing is strictly restricted and on public holidays abroad are still prohibited.

A tail as old as time

In what Laurie calls a “gradual trend,” the number of cats and dogs coming to Battersea has doubled in recent months.

Such spikes are not unheard of. Battersea saw a significant increase in stray dogs in the UK during the last recession.

“People have to move home and they cannot take their animals with them. Obviously, many people have come to us and told us that they can no longer stay with their animals due to financial reasons due to layoffs and loss of jobs. So that’s it. It’s been really unfortunate that they obviously had to give us their pet, “says Kennel Relocation Team Leader Kate Collins.

“But on the other hand, we accept any animal that comes near us, be it a dog or a cat. And we do everything we can to make sure we can relocate them to a really lovely home.”

Like all organizations, Battersea has had to adapt its work practices amid the pandemic.

It closed its doors to visitors for the first time in its 160-year history, began bringing dogs and cats into people’s homes, and replaced traditional physical introductions through video calls.

“In the past year we have obviously changed and adapted to a totally different form of rehousing. A lot of the things that we did before, we had clients who were meeting with cats,” says Collins.

“Unfortunately, in the confinement we couldn’t have that. So what we’ve done is have a lot more remote rehousing in the works.”


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