Michael Beatty at the RSPCA in Wacol with Zeus the Staffy. (AAP image, John Gass)
Michael Beatty at the RSPCA in Wacol with Zeus the Staffy. (AAP image, John Gass)

How unwanted animals are cared for during pandemic

RSPCA Qld is considering the very real possibility that it may be forced into lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said this would mean that all care centres throughout the state would not be able to accept incoming animals and this may include wildlife.

Mr Beatty also said in the United Kingdom, the government has ordered all RSPCA Centres to close although the animals remaining onsite are still being cared for.

"As you can imagine we'd like to get as many animals as possible out into the community," he said.

"We're still doing adoptions by appointment and 240 people have signed up to become foster carers which is fantastic."

Even if there is a lockdown to members of the public, it's likely that other operations such as the Inspectorate and animal ambulances may still continue to operate.

"Please don't forget the RSPCA in these times of need. Our Op shops and World for Pets stores may have to close cutting desperately needed revenue," Mr Beatty said.

"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."

Mr Beatty said animals brought much love and comfort during times of stress, uncertainty and sadness.

"I think people realise just how much comfort animals bring to our lives. In times of stress they help us to remain calm," he said.

"More and more these days we see animals being used in all forms of therapy and the benefits they bring are almost immeasurable."

Mr Beatty is also urging pet owners to ensure they have enough food and supplies over the coming weeks for their pets during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are some of his top tips to ensure you have everything you need:

The essentials: Make sure you have at least two weeks worth of food for your pet. If they are on any medications or a prescription veterinary diet have at least a month's stock of both. For cats, ensure you have enough cat litter and if your dog does have to stay inside with you for a few weeks consider having enough poo bags. To keep your pet healthy, have at least a month of parasite prevention. Call your vet before visiting to ensure they have the food or medicine ready for you to help with social distancing.

Buddy up: Contact and designate someone to look after your pet if you need to go to hospital. Make sure they have a way to access your house and know your pets and their requirements. Have all food clearly marked with feeding instructions. If your pet is on medications have instructions on what and when, and to make it easier have at least two weeks of medications pre dispensed into labelled pill organisers. Write up a day planner of your pets' normal routine and quirks so that whoever is looking after them can keep their routine as stable as possible. Have a call list which includes your veterinarian, alternate nearby veterinarian and available boarding facilities.

Pet documents and ID: Gather up all the essential documents relating to your pet and have them easily accessible. Make sure your microchip registration details are up to date and consider a secondary form of identification for your pet such as a collar and tag. Have a full list of emergency contacts including yours and family and friends' phone numbers and email addresses.

Emergency accommodation: Research and contact local boarding or pet minding facilities near you in the event that your pet requires emergency accommodation. Ask them to email you their boarding paperwork so this can be pre filled out and also send them any vaccination or registration paperwork in advance so that even a stranger could get them to safe accommodation. Have appropriate transport crates or leashes for each pet and place these within easy access. Most boarding facilities will require up-to-date vaccinations, so check your pet's vaccination status and call your vet if you require a booster.

Isolation enrichment: If you and your pet do need to self-isolate make sure you keep their mind and body active. For cats, this includes at least 30 minutes of one-on-one playtime or interaction; new toys that can be brought out for stimulation and indoor cat grass for nibbling on. For dogs that are usually walked you will have to find alternate ways to keep them active: Lots of one-on-one games, rotate dog toys and have a stock of new ones, play hide and seek, teach them new tricks, give them treat balls that make them work for the reward.

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