CassieRescue pets in the care of the RSPCA in Wales can be rehomed again for the first time since coronavirus restrictions came into force.

The Welsh Government is now directing animal rescue organisations to new Guidance that has been published by the Animal Welfare Network for Wales. This will allow rescue centres and animal welfare organisations to safely find new homes for animals in their care, or foster them out to temporary carers.

It is not permissible to open animal centres in Wales for the public to visit or collect animals, due to restrictions on non-essential travel. As such, the guidance ensures rescue and rehoming centres can safely transport animals to a new home or temporary foster home while adhering to the Welsh Government’s Covid-19 restrictions – including steps such as virtual home checks and digital post-adoption support.

The guidance also provides organisations with advice on taking animals into their care, providing appropriate care and delivering any necessary veterinary treatments amid the Covid-19 restrictions,

RSPCA Cymru say the guidance is “great news” for the scores of rescue animals currently in their care in Wales. The charity’s animal centres at Newport and Bryn-Y-Maen in Upper Colwyn Bay have continued to provide care for 185 animals in recent weeks – despite not being able to rehome these dogs, cats and other domestic animals to the public.

Sharpei crossbreed Cassie is a veteran dog who has been in the RSPCA’s care since November 2019, and is into her second spell at the centre. Staff are desperate to find her a forever home. Cassie is 12 years old – but has no issues getting out and about, and loves exploring on long walks. She would therefore benefit from an active home; while having someone at home for a significant chunk of the day is key to ensure she gets the love, attention and fuss she craves.

Meanwhile, Milkyway – a two-year-old domestic albino rabbit – is one of the 107 animals based at the Bryn-Y-Maen Animal Centre. He came into the RSPCA’s care following concerns for his welfare – after he was kept in inappropriate accommodation with three other rabbits; a small hutch which had not been cleaned out for some time. He’s full of confidence – but Milkyway’s eyesight is quite poor, meaning he is jumpy when touched. As such, the RSPCA is seeking a home with an experienced rabbit owner – and for him to be housed with a neutered female rabbit for company.

The RSPCA’s family of branches also rehome animals – including via the Llys Nini Animal Centre in Penllergaer, and from private boarding establishments in other parts of the country. Animals available for adoption will soon be available to view on the RSPCA’s Find a Pet website.

RSPCA Cymru hopes to utilise the guidance to find homes for countless animals previously rescued from cruelty, abandonment or neglect. However, prospective owners have also been advised to do their research, and ensure they would be able to meet the needs of their new family member once lockdown restrictions are over, and a semblance of normality returns.

Coralie Farren, RSPCA regional operations manager for Wales, said: “RSPCA rescue teams have been on the frontline across Wales throughout the coronavirus crisis, rescuing animals in emergency situations. However, as of yet, we haven’t been able to rehome these animals.

“That has now changed due to this hugely important new guidance from the Animal Welfare Network for Wales – which has been backed by the Welsh Government and will allow animal centres to pick up their vital rehoming work.

“Our animal centres will remain closed to the public – but we have developed a number of new protocols meaning we can adhere to social distancing and other Covid-19 restrictions, while delivering rescue pets to perfect new homes. This really is great news for animals amid these toughest times.

“Dedicated staff at our centres have provided amazing care for these animals during this crisis. But we know nothing can beat a loving home for an animal, and we’re excited to start ensuring perfect matches across Wales following this very welcome announcement.

“For some families and households, this will be an ideal time to settle in a new pet, with plenty more time to give them love and attention. However, we urge prospective adopters to plan for the future and consider whether an animal will be the right decision for them after the lockdown is over and some normality returns to society.

“But if adopting an animal is the right thing for you – the RSPCA has so many cats, dogs, equines and small domestic animals in our care – so anyone interested in adopting an RSPCA rescue animal can check out the Find a Pet website.”

Due to the current crisis, some RSPCA rehoming centres have limited staff available to take calls and emails so may take longer to respond to enquiries than usual. It is anticipated some animals will be available for rehoming straight away. However, not all establishments will be able to start rehoming immediately as the new guidance is rolled-out and implemented – and up-to-date information will be available from individual centres and branches.

Anyone looking to rehome an animal must also be aware of the current Covid-19, and their impact on elements of pet ownership – including not being able to travel for exercise, and limits on routine veterinary procedures. Additional information about current restrictions can be found on the Welsh Government website.

Many owners are concerned about caring for their pets amid the coronavirus – or Covid-19 – outbreak. There’s lots of advice and help on the RSPCA website.

The Animal Welfare Network Wales (AWNW) has thanked the Canine and Feline Sector Group for their kind permission to reproduce within the Guidance much of the content from the documentation they produced for Defra in England.