The RSPCA, which is currently caring for more than 4,800 animals will restart rehoming and fostering animals in its care in England from this week.
Frontline teams from the charity have continued to rescue animals throughout the crisis but they have been unable to find them new homes, meaning thousands have remained in care.
This means that now the RSPCA can start finding homes for the animals in its care using a new safe process.
In recent weeks, there have been more than a million visits to the RSPCA rehoming pages online, a rise of almost 30% and a staggering 600% increase in interest in fostering with more than 115,000 visits to the fostering page.
Chris Sherwood said: “We have continued to rescue and take in animals in need through the crisis and our frontline staff in our animal centres have done a sterling job in really tough circumstances, giving them the care and love that they need.
“But nothing can replace the care that a pet receives in a loving home so we are thrilled that we are going to be able to start finding them the families they desperately need right across England.
“Safety of the public, our staff and of course, the animals is our highest priority and we have developed guidelines to ensure that we can rehome, foster and provide ongoing support for adopters and fosterers in a safe way. This means out animal centres will remain closed to the public and we have developed a number of measures to make sure we can maintain social distancing while finding animals new homes.”
In line with Defra-approved guidance for England, animal centres will remain closed to the public and the new, temporary RSPCA rehoming and fostering process will involve:
- Finding an animal on the RSPCA’s Find a Pet web page, completing a Perfect Match form and emailing it to the rehoming centre.
- All adopters or fosters must live within about an hour’s drive of the centre where the animal is being cared for.
- All discussions will take place via phone or video call
- Adopters and fosters will get to ‘virtually meet’ their potential pet with videoa sent to sow them their behaviour and give them a deeper understanding of their pet’s personality.
- Home visits will be done virtually, through photos or video walk-through the home.
- All pets will be transported to their new homes and handovers will observe social distancing.
- All ongoing support will be done virtually.
Some RSPCA rescue centres and branches in England will begin to rehome and foster this week. This will vary from site to site so check with your local centre or branch.
RSPCA Pet Welfare Specialist, Dr Sam Gaines added: “For some families this will be an ideal time to settle a new pet into a new home when there is plenty pf time to give them all the love and attention they need, but we would urge people to make sure you plan for the future when the family eventually returns to work and school to make sure you can continue to give them the care they need for life.”