There are cats and dogs and other creatures awaiting adoption at the country's animal shelters and the bodies operating them, noticing a wane in public interest since covid19, are appealing to members of the public to still come in and provide them with a home
“It’s quite a lot of animals and of course, they all have to be looked after and cared for, (and) fed,” said Chairman of the TT Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Sita Kuruvilla.
Because of this, she is hoping members of the public will take in some of the animals as fewer working hours for staff mean less time spent with the animals. Puppies and kittens often require more attention and time than the adult animals.
“We would like to get as many animals out the shelter as possible.”
While cats and dogs are unable to become infected with covid19, according to the WHO, some of these animals still need the public’s assistance during this time. Local and international animal shelters have been urging the public to adopt or foster animals as attempts to comply with social distancing are being made.
The TTSPCA is closing its doors to the public this week as a precautionary measure.This means it will not be accepting walk-ins. But it is still accepting calls and messages for appointments to foster or adopt. It currently has 96 dogs and 31 cats at the Port of Spain branch, and at the Tobago branch, there are over 50 animals in total.
Speaking with Newsday on Tuesday afternoon, the TTSPCA chairman said working hours for staff members at the shelter have been reduced. They now have to work from 8 am to 1 pm, instead of ending at 3 pm.
She revealed,“We met to do some contingency planning based on the government advisories and also information we have looked at from other countries and how shelters are handling the situation there."
The TTSPCA has also removed its usual mandatory adoption fee which ranges from $250 to $450. This usually covers spaying/neutering (removal of reproductive organs), parasite treatment, and crucial vaccinations.
She said they have a month’s supply of food for the animals, and “several months’ supply” of medication and cleaning supplies.
In addition, there are sanitation products at the entrance for staff to use.
She said they will continue to monitor the situation, and that some people have volunteered to assist.
“Whatever happens, the animals need care seven days a week.”
Kathryn Cleghorn, president of the Animals Alive animal shelter in South Oropouche shared similar sentiments. This shelter, however, will remain open.
She said they have been experiencing slow days since the first confirmed case of covid19 in TT was announced.
The shelter currently has approximately 500 dogs and 75 cats. She said there is always a waiting list.
“On Sunday, we had absolutely no visitors and adoptions. It’s looking grim but we have to remain hopeful that this period of time will pass and things should normalise.”
She said usually, the shelter is packed with visitors and volunteers on Sundays.
She said these types of non-profit organisations depend on volunteerism and donations. But she said she always plans one month ahead at the shelter, and so they have a month’s supply of essentials for the animals.
“We’re hoping to God that after that month, we would be able to go back to normal.”
Its official hours are 9 am to 3 pm. It consists of six staff members in total.
“Staff has been quite co-operative. But the same time, we are operating with caution. We are wearing masks, if we have to speak to the public, we are keeping a social distance…”
Both organisations said home checks would still be done to ensure the animals are going to safe, loving homes.