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Pet adoption and coronavirus

With most of us spending lots of time at home, now might seem the ideal time to adopt a cat or dog. Here’s what you need to know if you want to welcome an adopted pet into your home.

With most of us spending lots of time at home, now might seem the ideal time to adopt a cat or dog. Here’s what you need to know if you want to welcome an adopted pet into your home.

David Edbrooke
Sub editor
minute read
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Posted 23 APRIL 2020

Please note: The information in this article was correct at the time of publication on 23 April 2020, but, because of the impact of COVID-19, things are changing rapidly. We aim to keep this page updated, but please check with animal charities directly to confirm any details. 

Can you adopt a cat or dog during coronavirus?

Yes, but the process will be different because of stay at home and social distancing restrictions, and not all charities are currently rehoming. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, and Cats Protection (formerly the Cats Protection League), for example, have suspended their rehoming services for the time being. Keep checking their websites for updates. 
The RSPCA’s rehoming service is running but its centres are closed to the public because of COVID-19. If you want to adopt from them, you’ll need to first apply online. If your application is successful, your new pet will be brought to your home. Find out more about rehoming from the RSPCA.

Dogs Trust is also trialling a new ‘handover at home’ service. Instead of you going to the centre to pick up your dog, they bring it to you, while sticking to social distancing guidelines. Find out more about rehoming from Dogs Trust.  
If you want to adopt a dog or cat from a charity that has currently suspended its services, it might be a good idea to apply online, if possible. That way, when centres re-open you could be a step ahead with your application.  
Meanwhile, you might want to help pets that are waiting for a home by making a donation to one of the rehoming charities. 
Of course, before you apply to adopt a pet, bear in mind this isn’t a normal situation. You may have lots of time on your hands now. But consider carefully whether you’ll be able to give an adopted dog or cat the attention they need once lockdown measures are lifted. 

Can I still foster a cat or dog?

Some of these services have been temporarily suspended, but you can still foster an animal from the RSPCA. The first step is to contact your local centre or branch by email. See how to foster a pet from the RSPCA
Keep checking for updates on animal charity websites so you’ll know straightaway when you’re able to foster. 

What are adoption centres doing to protect staff and volunteers from COVID-19?

Although frontline staff at charities like Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and the RSPCA are still working hard to look after animals in need, some centres have been closed to the public to protect staff and volunteers from the coronavirus outbreak. People who’re able to work from home are doing so. 

I’m worried I won’t be able to look after my pet if I get ill. Can I have it rehomed?

Some animal charities aren’t taking pets into their care except in emergencies. If you’re worried about being unable to look after your pet, try to arrange for a friend, neighbour or family member to act as an emergency carer. However, if you have COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of the illness, this may not be possible because of the need to self-isolate.   
If you have a pet insurance policy, you could check whether you have the ‘Emergency boarding kennel/cattery’ benefit included. A lot of providers are relaxing the rules on this, to help customers who are affected by the pandemic.

Can cats and dogs have coronavirus?

There have been reported cases, but it’s unlikely your cat or dog would become seriously ill because of coronavirus.  
Also, there’s no evidence that people can catch coronavirus from pets. According to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) there’s no suggestion companion pets infected by humans are responsible for spreading Covid-19.  
But it’s possible that if someone with Covid-19 symptoms accidentally coughs on their pet’s fur, and someone else strokes the pet, the virus could be transferred to that person. This would be the same mode of transmission as someone sneezing on a kitchen surface and another member of the household then accidentally putting their hands on that spot. Remember to thoroughly wash your hands before and after touching your pet. 

Find out more about pets and coronavirus

Pet insurance and coronavirus

Changes to vet services have also been made because of the coronavirus outbreak. Find out about these and other impacts of the virus on pets in our guide to coronavirus and pet insurance.

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