Covid-19: Kenyans turn to fostering pets during the pandemic

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reporting from Kenya

The spread of coronavirus has sparked an unusual demand for pets over 6,000 miles away on the African continent

Covid-19 has led to an increase in pet adoptions, and shelters being forced to close due to a lack of staff. They are staying home because of the lockdown and self-isolation.

Stray dogs (Credit: KSPCA, Nairobi)

The Kenyan Society for the Protection & Care of Animals (KSPCA) has warned anyone considering permanent adoption to think carefully about the future of sustaining the pet after the pandemic.

They claim searches for pets on their website have risen sharply between March and April since restrictions were introduced.

“It would be very overwhelming to have animals returned in a few months because people underestimated the responsibility of having a pet,” said a spokesperson.

As many residents in the capital,Nairobi race to empty kennels for much-needed companionship, the KSPCA warned impulse buyers to be realistic.

However, while welcoming people’s generosity, they are now concerned about a possible return of pets once the coronavirus crisis lessens and lives return to some kind of normal.

According to the UK pet charity PDSA, it costs between £4,500 to £13,000 to maintain a dog over its lifetime, and without medical expenses. The cost of a puppy is much less: between £370-£425, considering vaccinations, food and toys.

The KSPCA reported that with fears of getting infected and the implemented social distancing and self-isolation rules “It would make it very difficult for someone to adopt or buy a pet at this time.”

However, by operating an appointment system, they have managed to place 14 dogs into new homes this month.

Griffins Mwendwa, a vet from The Noble Veterans, had high hopes for those being rehomed: “Despite the uncertainty of what’s going to happen, I hope the pets and foster parents can have a special bond.”

For 21-year-old Aly Arunga adopting a pet their family home in Runda has been her dream, but settling on the ‘right’ pet has been difficult.

“I call them regularly through Skype, I have even received copies of vaccination certificates. This period has given me ample time to think rationally about buying a pet she said.

She spoke to her family about the future and how the responsibility will be shared.

“This will be the best time to take him on walks and even play with him before going back to university open.”

Like many other businesses and organisations, shelters have been affected by the economic outcome of the coronavirus outbreak.

As donations run short and workers or volunteers have to self- isolate, it seems like having fewer animals in shelters gives the owners less to worry about.

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