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Animal rights activist and president of Animals Alive Kathryn Cleghorn with her late puppy Bindy

Two of the country’s largest animal shelters have noted an increase in cases of animals being abandoned and requests to take in pets from owners who wish to relinquish them.

The reasoning they have received all stems from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes people now being unable to maintain their pets because of the loss of their jobs or because they need to move from where they are living to somewhere that does not allow pets to be kept.

The change in locations, they said, was because the owners were no longer able to afford the rent or were evicted.

“Between 2020 and 2021, the increase is already over 50 per cent and it’s definitely, probably, going to be close to 100 per cent before the year ends,” Animals Alive president Kathryn Cleghorn told Guardian Media.

“Before the pandemic in 2019, we took in a total of 72 animals. In 2020 when the pandemic really started to hit Trinidad in March we had taken in, between March and December we took in a total of 80 animals plus 25 before that so that would be 105 animals which is like a 25 per cent increase from the year before. This year which is only now in the month of May, already we have taken in a total of 55 animals.”

The main animal being given up or coming into the shelters are dogs.

The chairman of the council of the T&T Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Sita Kuruvilla, said they too have noticed a large increase in requests from pet owners to take the animals off their hands. Both shelters, however, say it’s difficult to accommodate the animals at this time.

“We’re trying to manage entry into the shelter because of course space is always a problem and even the ability to maintain all these animals in the shelter is increasingly difficult for us,” Kuruvilla said.

But for Animals Alive, Cleghorn said they are at capacity. This is because there are significantly more animals entering the facility than those leaving through adoptions.

Instead, they said attempts are made to assist people who wish to relinquish their pets.

Either way, activists said there are safer, more humane ways to give up the animals than discarding them on the roadside. Doing this can often lead to the animal’s demise.

North Western Veterinary Clinic manager, Michelle Lourenco said while they have not noted an increase in abandoned animals coming to them, they have noted a startling increase in cats and kittens being poisoned.

For those requiring assistance with their pets, you can consult the TTSPCA at 622-1367 or Animals Alive at 709-1151. They can also both be reached via their social media pages. The organisations are also open to donations to help them to continue protecting the welfare of animals.