UK animal rescue centres have lost up to half their income during the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey has revealed.
The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) found its members were facing huge staffing and funding pressures, with nearly half admitting they may not survive the crisis.
Representing 150 member organisations across the UK and Republic of Ireland, the ADCH findings revealed that coronavirus posed a huge threat to the sustainability of the dog and cat rescue sector, potentially creating an animal welfare time bomb.
To assess the impact of coronavirus on the rescue sector, ADCH conducted a survey of all its members between April 7-10, receiving responses from 99 members (65%). It found that 95% of organisations had seen an impact on their work or ability to operate while more than 90% have taken contingency measures to deal with coronavirus.
The survey found that a worrying 48% of members do not have funds to ensure they can continue to operate for more than three months, with 18% reporting that they face the risk of imminent closure due to the impact on fundraising.
All of the country’s largest animal welfare organisations, including the RSPCA, are members.
David Bowles, RSPCA head of public affairs and trustee for ADCH, said: “Everyone is feeling the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and the charity sector, which includes animal charities and rescue centres, is having to step up during this difficult time, despite facing severe pressures.
“Although most of the country is on lockdown, animals still need rescuing, feeding, walking, taking care of – and all of that is extremely expensive.”
He added that all the animal rescues that had responded said fundraising activities had been paused or postponed, but their expenditure was ongoing.
David continued: “This has left many, particularly smaller, charities in the sector at risk of imminent closure with nearly half saying they may not have funds to survive the lockdown..
“We have set up an emergency fund but we will still face a serious situation when we emerge from this tough time with much-reduced capacity in the sector with the knock-on effect on animal welfare in the future.”
The survey also found:
> All respondents said that the covid-19 lockdown has had a negative impact on fundraising with 57% reporting a drop in income of more than 50%, while 60% have been forced to close shops and all have cancelled fundraising events.
> 87% have stopped rehoming animals and 71% have closed their shelters to the public.
> 54% have stopped taking in animals while 46%, including the RSPCA, are still taking animals in, meaning the numbers of dogs and cats will continue to rise as they continue to be accepted but opportunities to rehome are limited.
> More than 60% of members have reduced staffing levels with a majority of staff being furloughed under the governments’ schemes and 85% of rescues have seen a reduction in volunteers.
> However 65% have reported more people wishing to foster dogs or cats and 35% wishing to rehome a dog or cat.
To support the ADCH’s coronavirus appeal please go to the ADCH donate page www.adch.org.uk/donate.
The RSPCA has now resumed rehoming animals. Read the full story at: www.petbusinessworld.co.uk/news/one-million-interested-in-adopting