RSPCA NSW response to COVID-19

In response to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak (caused by a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2), RSPCA NSW is taking necessary and responsible measures to protect the health and safety of our staff and volunteers.

Please read on for information regarding our shelters and clinics, op shops, Million Paws Walk updates, current information about human-to-pet transmission of COVID-19, and more.

**This blog will be updated as new information becomes available.**

Shelter opening hours

Effective 2 April 2020, RSPCA NSW shelters and care centres will be closed to the public until further notice. Rest assured, these sites will function with essential staff to ensure all in-care and incoming animals are cared for.

The four RSPCA NSW veterinary hospitals will remain open, with significant changes to how consults are conducted (see below).

RSPCA NSW will always be there for animals who need help. Please call ahead if there is an animal in need of emergency veterinary treatment or if there is a situation requiring an urgent surrender.

We will continue to receive and investigate cruelty reports, with our inspectorate following additional hygiene protocols to ensure their safety.

Veterinary hospitals

RSPCA NSW veterinary hospitals are still operating but with limited public opening hours and significant process changes in light of COVID-19.  

To protect the health and safety our staff, we expect clients to adhere to the following protocol at all four of our hospitals:

  • Call the relevant number (listed below) to advise you have arrived at the hospital and are ready for your appointment. Make sure your pet is in a carrier or kept on a lead.
  • In the meantime, wait inside your car until a veterinarian is available to give you a call and chat through your pet’s medical history.
  • After discussion with the veterinarian, one of our staff will come out to collect your animal from you, and the veterinarian will examine them while you wait in your car.
  • After the examination the veterinarian will phone you again to discuss their findings, and the options for testing and/or treatment of the problem.
  • If your animal is suitable to be discharged, payment will be taken via contactless card. If contactless payment is not an option for you, please alert staff before the appointment commences.
  • If your animal needs to stay in care, admission paperwork will need to be completed, which our receptionists will discuss with you.

Contact numbers

Broken Hill Veterinary Hospital: (08) 8087 7753.

Hunter Veterinary Hospital: (02) 4939 1500

Sydney Veterinary Hospital: 0422 000 326

Tighes Hill Veterinary Hospital: (02) 4927 6822

COVID-19 and pets

In this uncertain time, as the health and safety of our community is at risk, we want to clear up any confusion about the possible transmission of COVID-19 (caused by a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2) between animals and humans.

The Australian Veterinary Association has released a statement stating that the primary source of SARS-CoV-2 transmission remains human-to-human contact, and the best way to reduce your risk is to practice effective hand hygiene. This is corroborated by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which states that at this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19.

While pet owners should always use good hygiene practices, including hand hygiene before and after handling animals as well as their food, the AVA does not believe there is reason for pet owners to be otherwise concerned. 

However, along with the Australian Veterinary Association and the CDC, the RSPCA acknowledges that information on this disease is still evolving.

If you do happen to test positive with COVID-19, the AVA recommends minimising close contact with pets (such as avoiding hugging, face-to-face contact or sleeping on your bed) and using good hand hygiene practices around your animals, including washing your hands before and after handling your pets.

For more information, please head here.

Adoptions

RSPCA NSW is committed to finding loving homes for all our available animals.

If you’re interested in adopting a specific animal from RSPCA NSW, we encourage members of the public to fill out an adoption appointment request online and wait for our team to get in touch. The adoption process will then be conducted over the phone. Please do not go to our shelters.

If approved for adoption, an available team member will then transport the animal outside their new home to have a ‘meet and greet’ and to finalise the adoption, ensuring all physical distancing measures are adhered to.

This new process will be enforced at all shelters and branches and at our Tuggerah Care Centre. Adoptions will continue at Petbarn, as per Petbarn’s policies.

Despite these significant changes, we want to ensure you that our standards for rehoming will remain the same – finding the perfect forever home for our animals has been, and always will be, our top priority.

Surrenders and strays

Our shelters will be closed to the public so we will be taking surrenders and strays by appointment only (and limited where possible). Please call if you plan on surrendering an animal or would like to bring in a stray animal.

Million Paws Walk

The physical event of Million Paws Walk 2020 has been cancelled around the state. But don’t put away your activewear just yet!

While we all do our bit with social distancing and self-isolation, we want to make sure that dogs around the country are still getting their daily walk. That’s why we’re introducing Walk This May!

During the month of May, we’re encouraging RSPCA supporters to step it up (literally and figuratively) by lacing their sneakers, putting their furry friend on a lead and engaging in some socially responsible exercise.

Whether you take part inside or outside, you can log your steps in the pawdometer to show friends and family how much movement you and your dog have made, encouraging them to donate to animals in need!

Sign up now and join in on Walk This May! Head here for more information.

Community Outreach and Education Programs

All community outreach events have been postponed.

All future training events up until end of May have been postponed and students have been notified of their options via email. If anyone has any queries about what this means for them, please contact us at training@rspcansw.org.au.

All education activities, including our April School Holiday Program, have been postponed until further notice. If you have registered and paid for your child or children to attend our School Holiday Program, one of our team members will be in touch with you. Please also keep an eye on your emails as we will be sharing further updates about alternative school holiday activities.

If you have any questions in relation to our Education Programs, please contact us at education@rspcansw.org.au.

Our Programs Team has paused all non-essential home visits and has commenced offering modified services where appropriate. The team is only considering emergency boarding needs.

Op Shops

All RSPCA NSW Op Shops (Tweed Heads, Port Macquarie and Woy Woy) will be closed for at least the next month. If you are considering making a physical donation to one of our shops, we ask that you refrain from doing so until we have reopened. While we appreciate the generosity, please do not leave physical donations out the front of our stores.

Foster carers

RSPCA NSW relies heavily on its foster care network to provide temporary homes to animals who need a helping hand. Our dedicated carers do a wonderful job of looking after our most vulnerable animals and preparing them for loving forever homes.

Our team has been in touch with our current group of foster carers to enquire about their availability over the next few months. Please keep an eye on this page for further updates as they arise.

Volunteering

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, we are not currently recruiting new volunteers right now.

If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with RSPCA NSW in the future, please fill out this form and we will contact you once we are able to recruit new volunteers again.

Cleaning products and pets

Right now, our personal hygiene is important for the health and safety of ourselves and others. However, when you use products to clean your home, please be mindful of how they may impact your pets.

Bleach, ammonia, chlorine, formaldehyde, phenol and isopropyl alcohol are ingredients commonly used in cleaning products and are toxic if ingested by animals. Please don’t let your pets lick surfaces where cleaning products have recently been used and are still wet. Additionally, don’t leave the products in reach of curious paws.

We need your help

As a charity that receives only 2% of our funding from the government, we’re already starting to feel the impact of COVID-19. It’s becoming clearer every day that we’re soon going to be in a desperate situation.

We know this is an incredibly difficult time for so many people, so we want you to know that we’re only asking because we have a responsibility to these animals to do so. We currently have 2,584 animals in our care, and it costs about $19 per day to ensure each one is safe, well fed and looked after.

If you’re able, please will you give a gift today to help protect vulnerable animals during this crisis?

RSPCA NSW was created 146 years ago to rescue and care for our state’s animals, and with your help, we will continue to protect them during times of crisis.

We hope you and your loved ones are in good health and stay safe in these uncertain weeks ahead.