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SPCA swamped by pets left behind after owners leave over Covid-19

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Kate Terceira, executive director for the Bermuda SPCA, with pitbull Hank, handed over by his owners, who had to leave the island because of Covid-19 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Looking for a home: Romeo the pitbull. (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Kate Terceira, executive director for the Bermuda SPCA, with pitbull Hank, handed over by his owners, who had to leave the island because of Covid-19 (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

An animal welfare charity said it had been flooded by pets handed in by owners forced to leave the island because of the economic impact of Covid-19.

Kate Terceira, the executive director for the Bermuda SPCA, said the charity had seen “a dramatic increase” in the number of puppies coming through its doors.

Ms Terceira said: “We cared, neutered and began training for over 30 puppies, each puppy costing us in excess of $1,000.

“This is all during a time when we have not been able to hold our usual fundraising initiatives.”

A spokeswoman for the charity said that there had been more elderly cats handed in because their owners had left the island or could no longer afford to look after them.

She added: “With Covid, people are leaving the island as they don’t have a job and are leaving pets behind.

“We have a dog Hank that was with a family for five years. They had to leave the island and couldn’t take him because he’s a restricted breed.”

She said: “Another thing we have noticed is people moving house to downsize who have been unable to take their animals with them.

“Many landlords don’t accept pets which is a real struggle. I don’t know why it’s a problem – perhaps landlords are nervous of them destroying their property.”

Ms Terceira added that the charity had been hit by a drop in donations, as well as fewer fundraising opportunities because of coronavirus restrictions.

Full-time staff had their hours cut to three days a week when the lockdown regulations were imposed after the pandemic hit last March.

Ms Terceira said: “This past year has tested us and we are still reeling from the effects – however, our staff, volunteers, fosterers and donors have enabled us to continue our important work of speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves and we are determined to carry on.

“As with all charities, the Covid impact has been significant.”

The SPCA also assists with food and vet bills as well as the training and rehabilitation of animals.

The charity launched a pet food bank programme last year as a way to assist people during the pandemic.

The spokeswoman said: “We are a charity – we don’t have an unlimited pot of money but we take each individual case and assess the risk to the animal.

“The welfare of the animal is always the most important thing to us.”

The SPCA’s animal psychotherapy programme TheraTails, which works with clients and shelter animals, has also seen an increase in demand.

Ms Terceira said: “We haven’t been able to have our usual junior volunteer programme running. However, we are starting to launch our ’at home’ options where juniors can log hours making toys and treats for our animals.”

But she added the biggest casualty of the crisis was the six-week Compassionate Class for schools.

Ms Terceira said: “This free in-school programme that our own trained teacher presents, has had to be delayed, reworked and offered in a virtual format.

“We strongly believe, however that this will support our mission and help educate our children and therefore prevent the cruelty and neglect of animals we encounter.”

The SPCA is to hold its first fundraiser of the year – Paws to the Park – on April 11.

The event, which will have Covid-19 rules enforced, will start at 11am at Riddell’s Bay, Warwick.

A walk with pets, a photo booth sponsored by wholesalers BGA, goodie bags and a prize draw will all be offered.

For more information, to donate to the SPCA or register for Paws to the Park, visit https://spca.bm/

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Published March 22, 2021 at 2:03 pm (Updated March 22, 2021 at 2:03 pm)

SPCA swamped by pets left behind after owners leave over Covid-19

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