Can you adopt a pet in lockdown?
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Four readers from Suffolk share pictures and stories of their adorable adopted animals.
Many animal charities and rescue centres across the country have had to temporarily close their doors to the public due to the Coronavirus lockdown.
However, some, such as Dogs Trust and RSPCA, have allowed people to adopt pets under the circumstances, by offering virtual pet-matching services and contact-free drop offs thanks to the staff and volunteers working tirelessly behind the scenes. Buying or adopting a pet in lockdown has been both possible and legal, thanks to regulations created by the Kennel Club and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Additionally, with the Government having eased lockdown restrictions on Monday 1 June, it has meant that people are now able to meet outdoors or in private gardens - making pet adoption that one bit easier.
Four readers share their pet adoption tales, and how they’ve been getting on over the past few weeks.
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Russell Garwood, of Ipswich, welcomed another set of paws into his home, after he adopted Pablo the pug for his 10-year-old daughter, Emilie.
“We are lucky enough to have been able to give our daughter her dream dog during lockdown,” he said. “Emilie is absolutely pug crazy and has been wanting her own little pug for years - her bedroom is decorated from top to bottom with pugs.”
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Emilie suffers from anxiety and panic attacks, and Pablo has quickly become her therapy dog.
“He is proving to be so very helpful for her,” explained Russell. “He seems to be able to calm her down when she is having a panic attack, and just having him here has really improved her mental wellbeing.”
In order to retrieve Pablo, Russell had to do everything over Facetime and social media, adhering to social distancing measures.
“I travelled alone to collect him, and when I arrived, I called the lady to say I was outside,” he explained. “She then gathered all of the paperwork and waved me into the garden.
“I was able to see both the mum and the dad through the patio doors when leaving the carrier at the back door, before moving back to the garden gate while the breeder went to get pup and place him in the carrier.
“I sent payment by bank transfer, thanked the lady and she left the pup besides the door before going inside so I could safely collect him. I had no contact with the breeder, and was at least 10 feet away from her at all times. Both of us had a mask and gloves on just in case, but given the handover this wouldn’t have been necessary – more so for peace of mind for us both,” he added.
With Pablo the pup safely making his way to his new home, he has settled in well - and the Garwoods couldn’t be happier.
“Our daughter is absolutely besotted with him,” Russell said. “We are unsure what Emilie’s future holds, as she is currently being assessed for autism, but what we do know is that this little pug has brought her no end of happiness in such a small amount of time.
“The bond they have already is absolutely remarkable - something that we as a family have longed for, for such a long time. We know only too well the significant impact a dog can have on a child’s health and wellbeing. They really are a man’s best friend.”
The Garwood’s other dog, a five-year-old golden retriever, has also been a great comfort to the family, as Russell added: “All three of our children will go to him when they need a friend, and he makes them feel safe. It is such an amazing thing to watch, and seeing them all grow up together is such a blessing. Our golden retriever Buddy is scared of Pablo - even though he is the size of his foot!”
Lisa Wells, of Woodbridge, has also welcomed a new dog into her life, after adopting Max, a six-year-old German Shepherd and Mastiff cross back in March. Lisa had been looking for a new companion for around a month or so, after the family’s beagle passed away in December 2019.
Lisa said: “We had made arrangements to visit Battersea on Thursday 26 March, having been in contact with them regularly. On Monday 23 March, we had a phone call from Battersea informing us that we were unable to visit on the Thursday, but that they could bring him to us the next day, which is what they did.
“Over the weekend. Max had been fostered out, and his fosterer came with an employee of Battersea. We met and socialised with Max and the humans in our enclosed rear garden, with the staff keeping their distance. This was all carried out very professionally, and I would definitely recommend Battersea.”
It’s now June, and Max has settled well into his new home. “It has been amazing living with a new pet during lockdown - even after a few days it felt as though we had had Max for years,” Lisa explained. “Looking back, he did take a few days to settle in, but I think this would have been the case whether we were in lockdown or not. We never had an issue during the night with any whining, even though he would follow us around like a little (or big) sheep.”
Back when lockdown restrictions meant that people were unable to leave the house except once a day for daily exercise, a household of five proved to be handy for Max as he was able to get multiple walks a day.
Additionally, Battersea’s vets have kept in regular contact with Lisa and her family for the first two weeks of Max’s adoption, with the rehoming staff keeping in touch with them for four weeks.
“Max was seen by the Battersea vet before he joined us, so thankfully we haven’t had to visit the vet yet,” Lisa said.
While friends and relatives sadly haven’t been able to meet Max in person yet, the power of the internet has meant that he’s had plenty of introductions – and adoring fans. “Thankfully with social media, many of our friends and family have already been introduced to him,” she added.
Aisha Placiukas, of Ipswich, had been wanting to welcome a cat into her life for some time. One morning, she stumbled upon a post on Facebook - and instantly knew that Luna, a black and white kitten, was the pet for her.
“I saw a post on a group that a lady had four kittens ready to go to new homes - and within two hours I was able to bring our little baby home.”
Social distancing was maintained while Luna was passed over to her new mum, and Aisha was able to discuss the kitten’s needs with her previous owner from a safe distance.
“Luna has definitely brought more life, energy and laughter into our home,” Aisha said.
“After about three or four days, she has settled in well. She is toilet trained, eats well and is very playful.”
While many vets are only treating existing pets, or those for emergencies, Aisha will have to wait to get Luna checked over.
“Unfortunately, we have not gotten round to getting her fully checked, but we are on a list to be given a call when it is safe to get her booked in.
“Given the circumstances, Luna appears to be very healthy and happy at the moment, so I have no immediate concerns,” said Aisha.
Animal lover Gemma Clarke, of Felixstowe, sought a new companion from further afield and adopted five-month-old Fern from Romania on Thursday 14 May. Fern has settled in well - and the pair could not be happier.
“We decided to adopt from Romania, because when the borders originally closed at the beginning of lockdown, it saw many charities at a loss of what to do, and the animal welfare laws in Romania are almost non-existent,” she explained.
“The local dog wardens pick up street dogs in vans and take them to the shelter, where they’re left in filthy, cramped pens. The methods they use to put dogs down are truly horrific, too.”
With borders closed due to lockdown, the charities were beginning to struggle. “A few weeks ago however, they were allowed to start bringing dogs back over with some revised procedures, in order adhere to social distancing,” she said.
Such procedures include animal couriers having less dogs on their vans, so the couriers can travel alone.
“They wear masks too, and you’re asked to buy a slip lead so that they can pass one lead to you while theirs is taken off at a distance,” Gemma added.
“I have received some negativity for adopting from abroad, but I have no regrets,” she said.