Animal charity Wood Green is facing a “huge range of challenges” as it tries to look after nearly 300 animals as well as providing care for stray and unwanted pets and giving support to troubled owners.
The Godmanchester-based organisation is also facing a battle to raise funds after closing its 19 charity shops as a result of the coronavirus clampdown.
It has been forced to temporarily postpone animal rehoming, staff have given over their homes to care for the animals and nearly 180 pets have been fostered out to the public in a move which the charity described as unprecedented.
An increase in demand for support is also expected from pet owners facing dramatic changes to their lifestyles as a result of the virus and the precautions which have been put in place.
Wood Green has stopped carrying out non-essential veterinary surgery and is identifying ways of helping the NHS by reducing its use of oxygen, surgical masks and gloves where possible.
A number of jobs have also been furloughed in which staff stay at home but are kept on the payroll with 80 per cent of their pay coming from the government.
Vanessa Cunningham, director of care and veterinary services, said: “Like many other charities and businesses, the coronavirus has presented us with a huge range of challenges to overcome.
“It’s been incredible to see the team’s dedication to pets and their ability to adapt to these unprecedented times whilst always putting animal welfare first and foremost.”
She said: “Our aim now is to provide every pet with the care they need. We are not only ensuring that each pet in our care has a loving home but also securing all necessary supplies and access to essential veterinary services.
“We are also adapting our procedures and utilising more digital ways of working - such as video calls for veterinary consultations, remote prescribing of drugs, virtual veterinary walk rounds – trying to limit face-to-face interactions where we can.”
The charity said its immediate requirement had been to protect the public, staff and volunteers, which had a direct impact on the animals in its care, and had led to its centres being closed to visitors and the temporary suspension of rehoming.
It said front-line animal carers were now working fewer shifts to ensure social distancing requirements being met and a number of volunteers were staying at home.
Wood Green said nearly 180 pets were placed with foster carers to give them a more home-like environment during the crisis and that more than 100 members of staff had taken animals into their homes to care for them.
But the charity said a number of key workers had to remain on site for emergencies, such as the arrival of strays and abandoned animals, as well as looking after animals with medical, behavioural and high-end needs, together with field animals such as chickens.
Wood Green said its Community Engagement team continued to provide essential support to pet owners, such as working with food banks which provided pet food and other animal essentials.
The Pet Support team was also on hand for anyone who needed help and the charity expects to face increasing demand for this service as owners faced dramatic lifestyle changes because of the virus.
The charity, which does not receive any state aid, said the closure of its charity shops restricted its fund-raising abilities at a time when it was facing increasing demand for its services.
It is calling for the community to support its work in caring for pets by texting WOODGREEN to 70500 to donate £5 and donations can also be made through its website at woodgreen.org.uk .
The charity said that it was still available for anyone needing support with a pet and could offer free information, advice and guidance - including fun activities for owners and pets while in isolation.
Advice is available from woodgreen.org.uk/pet-advice or by contacting the team directly.