UK animal rescue centres have lost up to half of their income during the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey reveals.
The Association of Dogs and Cat Homes (ADCH) revealed their members were facing huge staffing and funding pressures, with nearly half admitting they may not survive the crisis.
Representing 150 member organisations across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland (England, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales), the ADCH findings revealed that coronavirus posed a he threat to the sustainability of the dog and cat rescue sector, potentially creating an animal welfare timebomb.
All of the country’s largest animal welfare organisations including RSPCA are members.
David Bowles, the charity’s head of public affairs and trustee for ADCH, said: “Everyone is feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and the charity sector, which includes animal charities and rescue charities, is having to step up during this difficult time, despite facing severe pressures.
“Although most of the country is on lockdown, animals still need rescuing, feeding, walking, taking care of – and all of that is extremely expensive. All animal rescues that responded to the survey said fundraising activities had been paused or postponed, but expenditure remains as much of the work continues.
“This has left many, particular smaller charities in the sector at risk of imminent closure with nearly half saying they may not have the funds to survive the lockdown. We have set up an emergency fund to help our members, but we will still face a situation when we emerge from this tough time with much-reduced capacity in the sector with the serious know-on effect on animal welfare in the future.”
ADCH conducted a survey of all its members to assess the impact of coronavirus, with 95% of organisations having seen an impact on their work or ability to operate while over 90% have taken contingency measures to deal with the crisis.
The survey also found that 18% face the risk of imminent closure due to the impact of fundraising with all respondents saying that the Covid-19 lockdown has had a negative impact on fundraising.
Due to the outbreak, 87% said they have stopped rehoming animals and 71% have closed their shelters to the public and 54% have stopped taking n animals.
However, 46% including RSPCA are still taking animals in, meaning the numbers of dogs and cats will continue to rise as they continue to be accepted but opportunities to rehome are limited.
Members employ over 6,200 full time and 2,100 part time staff and more than 60% have reduced staffing levels with a majority of staff being furloughed.
Despite seeing falling donations and increased pressure on reduced staff, centres are still taking in thousands of animals needed help and 65% have reported more people wishing to foster dogs or cats.
The survey found 16% of rescues reporting more cats being abandoned during the current lockdown with the impact on dogs seeming more limited.
David added: “We’re concerned that this increase in cats needing help could be just the first sign of an impending crisis. Organisations who work hard to take in injured stray cats and run neutering programmes are unable to operate and a rise in the cat population is highly likely.”
Holly Hedge, an ADCH members in Somerset, has taken in two dogs whose owner had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.
Hannah Goodwin-Sharman from Holly Hedge said: “Whilst his children had been helping to take care of the dogs, when he had to move, he could not take Dougie and Daisy with hi and with kennels closed we were pleased to take them. They are now doing well in the care of fosterers.”
To support the ADCH’s coronavirus appeal you can visit www.adcg.org.uk/donate.