Animal welfare groups feel effects of coronavirus

Threat of shutdowns a major challenge for staff, volunteers and animals.

Queensland’s animal welfare organisations are under increasing pressure during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Animal Welfare League Queensland (AWLQ) and RSPCA Queensland have both outlined how their operations would be affected.

AWLQ’s Craig Montgomery said the organisation was expecting a financial hit and increased demand for services as the impacts of COVID-19 increased.

“Two weeks ago, we temporarily suspended all education programs, holiday programs, community outreach and events,” Mr Montgomery said.

“This will have an impact on our income. We are also anticipating reduced income due to the severe financial strain many people are under.”

Mr Montgomery said AWLQ was in the process of scaling back all animal adoption services and had started a sale to reduce in-care numbers.

“We have received wonderful support from the community and have adopted out more than 80 animals over two days,” he said.

Mr Montgomery said AWLQ had also taken steps to protect the health and safety of staff and volunteers.

“Proactive measures are being taken in an effort to keep our animals, staff and volunteers safe, and allow teams to focus on supporting our community and continuing our lifesaving work,” he said.

“To protect the health and safety of staff and volunteers, AWLQ has reduced the number of volunteers at our Gold Coast Animal Rehoming Centre as part of their COVID-19 risk mitigation plan.”

Mr Montgomery said procedures were in place to care for animals if rehoming centres were closed.

“We have implemented an animal care plan which will see all animals moved into foster homes in the event we are directed to temporarily close all of our animal rehoming centres,” he said.

“We hope this doesn’t happen, but the welfare of the animals in our care is paramount and we need to have a plan.

“Our Community Vet Clinics will remain open with new processes in place to ensure everyone’s health and safety is maintained, including implementing safe distancing practices within waiting and consultation rooms.

“Long-term we expect to see an increase in demand for our support services including animal surrenders, emergency boarding and community vet clinics.” 

Mr Montgomery urged the community to continue to support AWLQ.

“We know these will be incredibly challenging times for many, many people but it is vital we continue to create a brighter future for animals in need and the only way we can do this is with the communities support,” he said.

Cats and dogs

Meanwhile, RSPCA Qld is also considering the possibility of being forced into lockdown.

RSPCA Qld’s Michael Beatty said this would mean all Queensland call centres would not be able to accept animals.

“As you can imagine we’d like to get as many animals as possible out into the community,” Mr Beatty said.

“We’re still doing adoptions by appointment and 240 people have signed up to become foster carers, which is fantastic.”

Mr Beatty said even if there was a lockdown to members of the public, it’s likely that other operations such as the inspectorate and animal ambulances would continue to operate.

“Please don’t forget the RSPCA in these times of need,” he said.

“Our op shops and World for Pets stores may have to close, cutting desperately needed revenue.

“As you can imagine, the majority of the RSPCA’s work is hands-on, so although a small number of our staff can work from home, for our inspectors, veterinarians and animal attendants it will be business as usual.

“With a lockdown, no volunteers are allowed onsite, so they’ll be desperately missed.”

For updates visit the AWLQ and RSPCA Qld websites.