Animal shelter volunteer says that they have never been so busy on intakes

NEWS AND COMMENT: An animal shelter in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, has never been busier. They are experiencing their highest ever demand to rehome cats and dogs in receiving 55 calls to taking unwanted companion animals in just one day.

One volunteer, Janice Porter, said that the Grove Hill Animal Trust has never seen it so bad in terms of intakes and she's been volunteering there for 20 years. By 11 AM on Monday she had received 20 calls to take in cats.

Janice Porter a volunteer at a N. Ireland animal shelter
Janice Porter a volunteer at Grove Hill Animal Trust, a N. Ireland animal shelter. Photo: Belfast Live

What's behind this? She thinks there are two reasons (1) people who acquired cats during the Covid lockdown failed to spay and neuter them due to inexperience and (2) the cost-of-living crisis is making it harder for owners to fund the keeping of a companion animal. It appears that people are cutting their living expenses and one of the things to go is their pet. There is a third reason: people returning to the office after working at home under artificial circumstances.

This, it has to be said, points to the same problem of not spaying and neutering and in adopting during the Covid pandemic in order to keep yourself company. These are adopters who were not really committed to caring for their companion animal for the life of the animal. That's the root of the issue.

The Covid pandemic distorted our lifestyles. It has created some long-term problems in many areas. There was actually a prediction that there would be a flood of cat and dog abandonments after Covid for these very reasons.

RELATED: More cats than dogs abandoned during coronavirus pandemic.

There was certainly a huge surge in dog adoptions in particular because millions of people had time on their hands to do nothing while they received furlough money (UK). They thought they would adopt a dog and take him or her for a walk in the park to occupy themselves. That sounds great but it is not the best way to prepare for a lifetime of care of a companion animal. It might work out but as we can see too often it doesn't.

Many of the cats being abandoned to this shelter are aged around 2 to 3 years old. This once again points to adoptions made during lockdown.

And perhaps there are other issues at play here. Let's say a person adopts a cat during lockdown and then let's them wander around and in effect abandons that cat so that he or she becomes a stray. Another person feeds the stray and because they are not spayed, they are going to mate with a stray tomcat and produced kittens in quite large numbers over a couple of years. This sort of thing is happening as well. The kind person who fed the street cat is then going to take them and their kittens to a shelter for rehoming.

It is sad to see this surge in abandonments but it was predictable.

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