Shelter Pets Need Homes More Than Ever: How You Can Help From Home


Jade Poole from I Write Words

Shelter Pets Need Homes

Shelter dogs are suffering from the coronavirus pandemic, and local shelters could really use some help. Here we call you to stand for the anti-abandonment of pets in anticipation of these difficult times. We also encourage help from home and discuss the ways you can support local shelters during this period.

In a rush to get our lives in order for the 21-day lockdown, and now, as we settle into the confinement of our homes, it is easy to forget the dangers this may pose to man's best friend. In times of panic, people are particularly vulnerable to misleading information. Claims that animals can transfer the COVID-19 virus are spreading, and the negative impact this is having on the well-being of animals is worrying.

Can animals contract coronavirus?

With people rapidly abandoning their animals at dog shelters due to fears that pets may spread the virus, shelters such as CLAW and TEARS have made a plea to the public for support during this time.


They stress the fact that there is no evidence that animals can contract COVID-19 or pass it on to humans, and the World Health Organization and World Small Animal Veterinary Association can confirm.


But don’t forget, it’s still vital to stay healthy and hygienic around your pets. Simple things such as washing your hands after handling your animal and their food or toys can ensure a healthier household.


Anti-abandonment of animals

Shelters have urged pet owners to continue to care for their animals during this time and ignore the new frenzy of frightened pet-owners anxiously abandoning their animals.


In the days running up to the official start of the lockdown, shelters made a loud plea to adopt rather than shop for animals, as kennels began to evacuate in anticipation of the lockdown. Despite their best attempts to clear the kennels, many shelters still remain at their full capacity of animals.


After the lockdown the number of abandoned animals is expected to rise as people face the harsh financial demands of this period and may struggle to care for their pets. “It’s likely that we’ll see a rise in unwanted and abandoned pets during this crisis,” says Marnie Steffny, TEARS’ Adoption Coordinator. Therefore, the responsibility falls upon us pet-owners to continue to look after these animals and show support for these organisations.


How to help from home



TEARS is a shelter in Sunnydale, Cape Town, that feeds and cares for approximately 250 rescue cats, kittens, puppies and dogs. With the abandonment of animals due to coronavirus fears, this number has increased rapidly in the last week. Anxiety in the organisation is peaking and it is clear the shelter is not equipped to deal with these elevated numbers.


But you can help: become a hero from home (it’s as cool as it sounds, we promise).


You may be in isolation, but you can still assist these shelters by donating food, blankets, beds for the dogs and any monetary contributions for the necessary medical care. During the  lockdown there will be no adoptions and viewings, and the organisation needs funds to keep the kennels going, now more than ever.


With easy access to their online donation page, in just a few short minutes you can make a difference in the lives of these wonderful animals. 


Facing a similar plight is CLAW (Community Led Animal Welfare), an animal rescue shelter in Johannesburg. Their main focus is caring for pets that have been abandoned in impoverished areas. This shelter may shoulder the heaviest burden at this time as pet-owners in the surrounding informal settlements forsake their pets due to the economic burden this crisis will place on labourers and ground-level staff.


The organisation says, “CLAW has been inundated with surrendered animals these past few weeks. We expect these numbers to increase in the foreseeable future. We cannot turn these sick or surrendered dogs away. However, it does put enormous pressure on our clinic.”


As South Africa faces the threat of COVID-19, there will still be a need for the regular level of assistance given to animals by CLAW. This includes feeding the animals and providing the necessary medical treatment (such as sterilization). They are in desperate need for donations towards dog and cat pellets, tinned dog and cat food, bleach, dustbin bags, brooms, mops, buckets, old blankets and towels, rice & non perishable food. They’ve also taken the initiative and started a back a buddy campaign to raise a year's worth of medication costs.


Precautions taken by shelters

TEARS implemented a Crisis Preparedness Plan that began on the 17th of March. It includes firm social distancing and hygiene protocols to ensure that, throughout the organisation, human-to-human contact will be limited. TEARS has spent the last few days evacuating the kennels in light of the 21-day shutdown.


With the hashtags #TheGreatEscape, tears appealed to the public to foster a dog in order to clear out the shelter for the impending lockdown in order to lessen the strain on their staff and allow them to stay at home too. The organisation has made it clear that they take their social responsibility seriously but, despite all attempts, they are still left to care for a number of animals during this time.


Since the start of the outbreak of COVI-19 in South Africa, CLAW has also implemented strict measures at the clinic to protect the remaining animal caretakers. They’ve ensured hand washing before entry and hard surface cleaning throughout the day. The need for social distancing is imperative and the organisation will therefore suspend kennel visits and adoptions during this time.


Another worthy cause

Project Rhino's K9 anti-poaching unit in Kwazulu-Natal uses dogs as an essential tool to fight wildlife crime by tracking down poachers and recovering illegal weapons and ammunition. These guys are on the frontline when it comes to facing crime and bad guys out there (viruses included). Which means that they need your help now, more than ever.


Oneplan (that’s us) has recently sponsored these heroic dogs and their handlers who form part of the K9 anti-poaching dog unit for one year with pet insurance and health insurance. During this time, The K9 Unit Initiative still needs to provide shelter and care for these furry protectors. If you would like to contribute to the funding of this project or assist with veterinary supplies or dog food, please visit this link. For more information on the K9 Unit and what we do to help, click here.


Where Oneplan comes in

While many are concerned about the additional financial demands that come with taking care of a pet at this time, oneplan makes this manageable with affordable pet insurance for dogs. We also provide easy access to our blog page with helpful information on how to best look after your beloved pet.


So why not take the leap and support an animal-friendly organisation today?


Yours in quality pet insurance you could cuddle,



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