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How one Suffolk animal charity is coping with the coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 17:09 02 May 2020 | UPDATED: 17:09 02 May 2020

Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said:

Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said: "Like all charities I think there will be some impact, but we’re doing all we can to keep everyone safe and keep helping pets and their owners." Picture: BLUE CROSS

BLUE CROSS

Rehoming guinea pigs over video chat and virtual vet visits – how one Suffolk animal sanctuary is getting through the Covid-19 crisis.

Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said: Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said: "Like all charities I think there will be some impact, but we’re doing all we can to keep everyone safe and keep helping pets and their owners." Picture: BLUE CROSS

Blue Cross Suffolk, an animal rehoming charity based near Ipswich, is currently looking after 33 animals and is having to find them new homes in creative new ways.

The staff are classed as key workers so are allowed to travel for their work, but the centre is currently closed to the public meaning that they have had to find new ways of doing things.

So far, they have managed to rehome smaller animals including hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits using video chats.

Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said: Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said: "Like all charities I think there will be some impact, but we’re doing all we can to keep everyone safe and keep helping pets and their owners." Picture: BLUE CROSS

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Clare Williamson, Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager said: “Like all charities I think there will be some impact, but we’re doing all we can to keep everyone safe and keep helping pets and their owners.

“We’ve been having Skype chats with the animals foster parents. Obviously they can’t meet their new animals first, they’re getting to know them and we have lots of information to pass on.

Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said: Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said: "Like all charities I think there will be some impact, but we’re doing all we can to keep everyone safe and keep helping pets and their owners." Picture: BLUE CROSS

“We’ve shown them lots of videos of how to handle the animals and what their characters are like. Everything we’d normally be doing in person, we’ve been able to do it remotely.”

The centre is still trying to rehome cats and dogs they have not been able to do so yet.

They have also been able to get vets to give the animals check ups over video.

“We’ve been doing a lot of virtual vet checks. We’ve been taking videos of animals that have had surgery for the vet to check, or of their mouth if it is a dental issue.

Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said: Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said: "Like all charities I think there will be some impact, but we’re doing all we can to keep everyone safe and keep helping pets and their owners." Picture: BLUE CROSS

“If the vet has any concerns we’ve taken them to our local vets to be seen in person. But a lot of times they can see so much from the video that there is no need for the animal to be physically checked. And it’s less stressful for the animal this way.”

With the population under lockdown the Blue Cross has also seen an uptick in the number of people looking to rehome animals on a temporary basis.

Miss Williamson said: “A lot of people that are working from home, who wouldn’t normally be able to have an animal, have called up asking to foster an animal. But sadly we have not been able to take on any new fosterers because all of our foster animals are already out.”

Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said: Blue Cross Suffolk centre manager Clare Williamson said: "Like all charities I think there will be some impact, but we’re doing all we can to keep everyone safe and keep helping pets and their owners." Picture: BLUE CROSS

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People are also trying to help out in other ways: “We are still having donations coming through the post and we’ve had lots of people donating food to the donations box outside – normally about two to three times a day. We’ve had so much that we have had to pass some of it onto smaller charities.

“We’re getting so much support. People have been really generous. We’re really grateful and trying to make sure all the animals get all of their care needs in a safe way.”

Miss Williamson said that those who wished to donate or foster an animal should visit the charity’s website.

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