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COVID-19: Animals in Urgent Need in Heavily Affected Areas

March 2019 – Animal shelters around the world are facing dire impacts due to the devastating fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. SPCA International’s shelter partners across the globe are reporting food shortages, high numbers of abandoned pets, and near-zero adoption rates in heavily affected countries including China, Italy, and South Korea as borders close. While there is currently no evidence that pets can spread the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization, companion animals around the world remain at risk of abandonment and culling, due to fears and overcrowded shelters.

Specific animal needs in heavily affected countries include:

  • Feed: In China, animal shelters are making their own dog food, with supermarkets having long since run out of bagged kibble.
  • Abandoned animals: Shelters in Italy are overflowing as animals are abandoned daily due to unfounded fears. 
  • Shelters over capacity: Shelters in South Korea have stopped international animal adoptions and no longer have international volunteers to help with their work. 

Shelters across the globe have contacted SPCA International for help to respond to each of these emergency situations while facing an uncertain future themselves, and SPCA International is in regular contact as they report on their needs. Thanks to generous supporters, the organization has mobilized $100,000 for grants specifically for the COVID-19 crisis response and will continue to support shelters in need with further grants in the coming weeks.

“As this situation unfolds, we’re continuing to monitor animal welfare across the globe and step in where we can help,” said Meredith Ayan, Executive Director of SPCA International. “Uncertainty, store closures, delayed shipments, and misinformation can have tragic implications for animals, making the work of these shelters on the ground even more urgent. Now more than ever, they need our support.”

SPCA International’s specific grant recipients around the world will include:

  • SPCA Italia (Ardea, Italy) – This rescue organization has a special permit from the Italian police to rescue the many dogs and cats that are being abandoned on the streets amid the COVID-19 lockdown. Funds will help them continue rescuing and caring for animals.
  • Plush Bears Shelter (Baicheng, China) – This shelter makes their own dog kibble, so funds will help them buy the ingredients they need to feed the dogs in their care.
  • K9 Global Rescue (Jeonju, South Korea) – This organization rescues dogs from the dog meat trade and finds them adoptive homes in the U.S. They can’t transport the dogs right now, so funds will help shelter, feed and provide veterinary care until the dogs can travel to their new homes.
  • Animal House Jamaica (Lydford, Jamaica) – This shelter relies on food donations from the surrounding hotels to feed the 200 dogs in their care. With hotel operations halted, they now have to buy kibble. Funds will support the cost of buying food to last for two months.
  • Rifugio Jill Phipps (Asti, Italy) – This refuge organization shelters animals that have been saved from slaughter, including farm animals. They are having difficulty accessing food during the COVID-19 crisis, so funds will help them act quickly to buy food when it is available.
  • Unidad Proteccion Animal in the Dominican Republic (Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic) – This organization is facing food shortages and store closures. Funds will help them purchase enough food to last until normal supply chains are functioning again.
  • Vucjak Shelter (Kragujevac, Serbia) – This shelter is faced with a food shortage as EU borders close. Funds will help them buy enough food to survive this crisis.

While adoptions and fostering of pets in the U.S. remains high, animals in countries with high stray populations and where keeping companion animals is less customary remain at a high risk of abandonment and food shortages.

To learn more about how animals around the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and how SPCA International and its partner shelters are responding to this emergency, contact us for an interview.

Readers can donate to support SPCA International’s grants to help animal rescue groups impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns and food shortages.