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Girona animal shelters 'at the limit' as virus restrictions 'freeze' pet adoptions

Some centers say they have had requests to "rent out dogs" by people looking for an excuse to leave the house during the crisis


03 April 2020 01:48 PM


ACN | Barcelona

Animal shelters in Catalonia's northern region of Girona have warned that they are reaching "the limit" of their capacity, as the restrictions confining people to home have meant adoptions of pets, particularly dogs and cats, are effectively "frozen."

Adding to their problems caused by the health restrictions is that donations, which are vital to help pay for the care of the animals, have all but dried up, but as the shelters point out, "we have to continue feeding the animals."

While processing adoptions has become difficult with vets prioritizing emergencies, some shelters, such as Bu-Bup in Bisbal d'Empordà, also complain that they have had requests to "rent out dogs" from people looking for an excuse to leave home during the crisis.  

In short, the preventive measures brought in by the Spanish authorities have left shelters in an "uncertain and complicated" situation. Many are now surviving on help given by companies in the pet sector, which are providing some foods and supplies.

"Everything is at a standstill"

"Right now we keeping going thanks to people of goodwill who are lending us a hand, but the reality is that everything is at a standstill," says Cristina Martín, the head of the Bu-Bup animal shelter.

To make things worse, the current situation has led to an increase in the number of pets abandoned by owners and so while there are few adoptions, the number of animals entering shelters is rising: "That means we are reaching the capacity limit," says Martín

Other shelters in the Girona area find themselves in a similar situation. Amandine Garriga, who heads the Anxova Peluda shelter in Escala, says the confinement restrictions are posing a "logistical hurdle" to people who want to adopt a pet.

"We always ask that the couple comes, together with any children and their dog, if they have one. As that is now impossible to do, the animals cannot be released from where they are being housed," says Garriga.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that vets are now only providing emergency services, and are not neutering animals or giving vaccines or implanting chips, which are needed for the adoption process to go ahead.

"Renting out dogs" to go outside

The head of Bu-Bup also reports requests they have had to "rent out a dog" so that people have an excuse to leave the house. "People ask us who want to go for a walk, while others openly say that they only want the dog until the confinement ends," says Martín. 

For that reason, Martín advises "taking great care" when beginning an adoption process: "You have to make sure that the person interested will still be interested in having the dog when all of this is over. They are not toys," she says. 

Cat shelters also have problems, in their case because the number of stray animals is high and they are now in the reproductive season. Marta López, head of Bisbal Gats, says many local authorities do not pick up stray cats, "even though the law obliges them to."

López complains of a "major lack of control" in this area: "We pick them up off the streets out of pity, not because we have to, that is the obligation of local councils," she says, adding that more shelters for these animals should be set up.


  • Dogs kept at the Bu Bap shelter in Girona (by Gerard Vilà)

  • Dogs kept at the Bu Bap shelter in Girona (by Gerard Vilà)