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Emergency funding for rescue centres
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By Matthew Limb

Animal rescue centres are being thrown a funding lifeline to avert an animal welfare ‘catastrophe’ from happening under the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes (ADCH) has launched an emergency fund – with one-off grants of up to £10,000 available – to stave off centre closures and maintain vital rescue and rehoming work across the British Isles.

It follows a survey of member organisations that showed many centres facing crisis, amid falls in funding but no let-up in need, which risks wide-scale abandonment of pets.

Claire Horton, ADCH chair, said: ‘Their [charities’] income streams have all but dried up due to cancelled fundraising activities and closure of charity shops. This is an emergency – the very survival of some of these rescues is at stake.

Their closure or reduction in capacity would be catastrophic for animals in need

‘Their closure or reduction in capacity would be catastrophic for animals in need.’

Grants under the estimated £400,000 emergency fund will cover activities directly affected by Covid-19.

They will be prioritised for organisations with an annual turnover of £500,000 or less, and will help towards rent, heating and regular staff costs, as well as replacing funding otherwise lost from cancelled fundraising events.

The grants will also support the cost of food, bedding, cleaning equipment and transportation of animals, plus additional staff costs as a result of staff and volunteers not being able to attend the rescue centres or shelter.

The ADCH said some monies would be issued now to meet immediate needs and some held back for a later stage to help rescue centres that will need help as they emerge from lockdown.

If applications exceed the funds available, priority will be given to those centres that have not yet received funding from other named emergency funds.

The association has 150 member organisations in eight jurisdictions in the UK and the Republic of Ireland – England, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Jersey, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Some 89 per cent of ADCH members (134) responded to its survey on the impact of the coronavirus during Easter week (7–10 April).

All organisations (100 per cent) said their income had reduced – for 55 per cent fundraising income had fallen by over 50 per cent – while all had cancelled fundraising events.

Other findings included:

  • 52 per cent of members have three months of income and reserves remaining, 32 per cent less than three months and some ‘significantly less’;

  • 87 per cent of rescue centres have stopped rehoming animals;

  • 71 per cent have closed their shelters to the public;

  • 54 per cent of all rescue centres have stopped taking in animals;

  • 57 per cent of members have closed their shops; and

  • 61 per cent of members have reduced staff numbers (the majority through furloughing).

It is feared many pet owners will struggle to care for their pets financially or not be able to cope with them after the lockdown lifts.

Horton said: ‘The ADCH coronavirus emergency fund is here to provide aid to rescues in immediate crisis and support to others further down the line.’

Organisations wishing to apply can visit www.adch.org.uk/adch-coronavirus-emergency-fund/

In a House of Lords debate on 30 April on how Covid-19 was affecting all charities, Lord Black of Brentwood urged support for animal charities.

Cats Protection and Dogs Trust welcomed the debate and highlighted challenges in the sector, including sharp drops in income.

They warned of a significant fall in the number of pets being rehomed with most rehoming centres closed to the public.

The RSPCA has announced it has restarted rehoming and fostering animals in its care in England.

Its move came after Defra approved guidelines, drawn up by the Canine and Feline Sector Group, to allow animal welfare charities in England to rehome safely during the pandemic. ●

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