Charities start rehoming dogs and cats following new guidelines

Some animal charities have started rehoming pets again after new guidelines on doing so safely during the coronavirus pandemic were approved by the UK Government.

Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and the RSPCA are among those that are once again helping rescued cats and dogs find their forever home.

Animal shelters were closed to the public when lockdown was imposed at the end of March and most charities stopped taking in new rescues apart from emergency cases. Staff and volunteers continued to look after animals already in their care, but rehoming and fostering programmes were suspended.

However, Defra has now approved new guidelines from the Canine and Feline Sector Group which address how rescue centres should operate during the crisis. As well as rehoming and fostering, the document covers admissions, everyday care and veterinary care.

For the time being, animal centres will remain closed to the public and the rehoming process will be different in order to maintain social distancing while finding animals new homes.

New measures to help protect Battersea’s customers and staff include:

- Introducing dogs and cats to potential new owners using video calling and recorded footage of the animals.

- Assessing the suitability of any new home using photos and video walk throughs.

- Cats will be delivered to their new owners in cat carriers, and dogs will be handed over in gardens and secure outdoor spaces such as dog walking fields whilst maintaining a two-metre distance.

The charity will be prioritising existing applications and customers who live within a short distance of its three centres.

The RSPCA is following similar procedures, and Cats Protection said that it was trialling a ‘hands-free’ homing approach at two adoption centres.

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