“Virtual adoptions” for RSPCA
"Virtual adoptions" are on the horizon for those looking to add a new pet to their family, as RSPCA Queensland further adapts for the coronavirus pandemic.
The animal protection society has been forced to close the doors of its shelters for the safety of its staff and visitors following the tightening of restrictions on public gatherings.
"There's a chance … maybe in another couple of weeks that we'll be looking at virtual adoptions if I can put it that way," RSPCA QLD Senior Media and Community Adviser Michael Beatty said.
"So somebody can have a look at an animal online, and then one of our staff would be on the other end to answer questions and get shots and video of the animal, so somebody could get to know the animal that way in a sense.
"Then it would be a question of simply coming into the centre and picking the animal up, so you wouldn't need a lot of person-to-person or physical contact.
"It's just a question of getting all the machinations in place to make it as easy as possible for everybody, and with little or no risk."
The majority of animals that were waiting for adoption will go into foster care, after over 3,000 people contacted the RSPCA in four and a half days to express their interest in helping out.
"It was just extraordinary, that number of people signing up," Mr Beatty said.
"I think because a lot of people are now working from home or more sadly might have lost their job … whereas before they felt they couldn't take on an animal because they were at work all day and that type of thing, now they think they might as well foster an animal for a short period of time until they figure out what the future holds.
"We've already gone through 400 of those questionnaires … then it will be a case of matching an animal to a person - there are dog and cats, as well as horses, goats and the like."
Some animals will remain at centres including Dakabin and Wacol to be cared for by staff, including those who need daily veterinary care or behavioural training, injured wildlife, and those involved in court cases and not yet signed over to the RSPCA.
Mr Beatty said all their op shops have also been forced to close, hitting the bottom line hard.
"It's a considerable source of income that's dried up, so we urge people not to forget the RSPCA when it comes to any sort of planned donations or regular giving.
"Times are very tight financially - and obviously we're not the only organisation feeling the pinch."
An ongoing program where cats are available for adoption at Petbarn stores is continuing for now.