Adoptions, rescue and sterilization actions were suspended and, in the face of the pandemic, animal protection and shelter associations are now approaching an “inevitable” scenario of reduced donations, increased abandonments and the birth of stray litters.
Like so many other activities in Portugal, the animal protection and shelter associations also decided to close their doors. However, amid grids and scattered in wild colonies, the animals are waiting for volunteers every day.
Ana Ceriz, president of Associação CãoViver, in Maia, monitors a team of 36 volunteers. In order to safeguard them from the Covid-19 outbreak, he reduced the team to 10 elements who, these days, are “taking turns”.
At her charge, Ana Ceriz has 60 animals, including eight babies, and she is now unable to participate in the “usual” awareness campaigns in schools and homes. But not only. It also finds itself unable to continue or initiate adoption processes.
“At this moment, everything is suspended. We regularly received immense groups of companies, schools and colleges and we had to stop everything,” he said.
In the same way that it was visited by countless groups, it also regularly received donations. But when it closed its doors, “the association's bank account was zero.”
“I think it's not a bad thing, but people stopped helping us. We had regular donations, but when we closed, the association's account was zero. We never had so many days, around 13, without donations coming in,” admitted Ana Ceriz, confessing that to maintain the situation, the association's management will become “difficult”.
“We are totally dependent on society, which is serious because, at this moment, and understandably, people are scared, they do not know what tomorrow will be like, they do not know if they will have money for them, let alone help associations “, he confided.
Ana Ceriz will continue, together with her team of volunteers, to take care of the animals, but she knows that the association “cannot live” without support or awareness campaigns.
Maria Pinto Teixeira chairs the Street Animals Association, founded in 2005 with the purpose of “controlling the population of stray [stray] animals”.
The association, which works in partnership with 19 municipalities from north to south of the country and has already sterilized more than 30,000 cats, is now approaching a “disastrous” scenario.
The reduction to the minimum services of the municipal medical-veterinary offices and private clinics with whom they work, coincided with the heat season of the hundreds of colonies they control.
“We have countless females that are pregnant and that will end up having the litters because we had to suspend the capture activities on the ground, which will have disastrous consequences”, explained Maria Pinto Teixeira.
On the ground, Maria and the association's volunteers only continue to feed the cat colonies, but since the pandemic struck Portugal they have already signaled “15 domestic animals” that have been abandoned in those places.
“People are panicking and abandoning domestic cats in the colonies, thinking that, as they are controlled feeding points, that animals are protected. But they are not, domestic cats are not prepared to live on the street and have no means of providence. “, he maintained.
Despite continuing to warn people that animals are not transmitters for Covid-19, Maria predicts a “dramatic” scenario for the foreseeable future with the number of abandonments and births on the rise.
Like Maria, Catarina Almeida, president of the Causas de Caudas Association, based in Porto, believes that “the conditions for the perfect storm are in place”.
“The uncertainty about the date on which we will be able to resume catches determines, from the start, the inevitable birth of huge litters,” he said, adding that the consequences would also be “negative”.
“Many of the efforts and resources used in the work already developed will, for all intents and purposes, be considered wasted, since we will be faced with immense situations from starting from scratch”, he admitted.
In addition to the increase in the number of colonies, Catarina Almeida also fears that “the abandonment of animals will increase in large numbers”.
Aware of the “inevitable” scenario they will face, the associations try, however, to minimize some damage, helping pet owners, whose economic situation, although difficult, due to the consequences of the pandemic, has been aggravated.
The new coronavirus, responsible for the covid-19 pandemic, has already infected more than 386,000 people worldwide, of whom about 17,000 have died.
In Portugal, there are 30 deaths, seven more than the day before, and 2,362 confirmed infections, according to the balance made today by the Directorate-General for Health, which registers 302 more cases than on Monday.
Of those infected, 203 are hospitalized, 48 of whom are in intensive care units, and 22 patients have already recovered.
Portugal is in a state of emergency from 00:00 on Thursday and until 23:59 on 02 April.
In addition, the Government declared on the 17th the state of public calamity for the municipality of Ovar.