The Taupō community is being asked to help local animal rescue CARE as it struggles to survive financially during the Covid-19 lockdown.

CARE (Community Animal Rescue and Education) has 65 animals on its books at present, although 50 of them are in foster homes during the lockdown, with only 15 cats and kittens in CARE's cattery in Nukuhau St.

But CARE operations manager Helen Rabinska said that because the CARE Op Shop is closed for the lockdown, the rescue is unable to generate the funds it normally would use for rent and for other costs such as vet bills which come to around $4000 per month.

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Ms Rabinska said when the lockdown was announced CARE put out a distress call to its community for additional foster families and had an "amazing" response from people as far afield as Rotorua who were able to provide a family environment for animals during the lockdown.

"It's much preferable for the animal for their wellbeing and we are very thankful for that," said Ms Rabinska.

Molly was kept permanently chained up. She had a litter of pups, her third, 24 hours after being rescued. Photo / CARE
Molly was kept permanently chained up. She had a litter of pups, her third, 24 hours after being rescued. Photo / CARE

Since then CARE has rescued several other animals including a mother cat and six kittens left behind at a Taharepa Rd home when the tenants moved out. Neighbours are temporarily caring for the brood with food, bedding and vet treatment paid for by CARE.

Ms Rabinska says while the animals are all taken care of, money is the big worry now. Money from the op shop has dried up, it is not able to adopt out animals and collect adoption fees while in lockdown and as it has no paid staff it is unable to access government help.

She's appealing for donations, particularly money, to help with the costs. Setting up a monthly payment, even for just a small amount, is helpful as it enables CARE to plan ahead.

"Money is king because that gives us flexibility," she said, adding that people can donate through the Facebook page @carecommunitynz.

A mother cat and kittens are being treated for cat flu after being abandoned by their previous owner when they moved out. Photo / CARE
A mother cat and kittens are being treated for cat flu after being abandoned by their previous owner when they moved out. Photo / CARE

"People can still donate food to us through Pak'nSave and we'd love for people to buy kitten food that they can leave in the bin there.

"We have lots of kittens ready for adoption and people can start to do some of the adoption paperwork now so that as soon as lockdown is lifted they can complete the adoption."

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Stacy Lewis of Animal Care Tūrangi says it is fortunate that she had had a lot of food donations in the leadup and was able to adopt out 33 animals during March, including eight in the two days prior to lockdown.

"We had 33 adoptions last month so my centre was fairly manageable but I did have 10 four-week-old puppies surrendered to me two days before the lockdown. I didn't know what to do so I reached out to my rescue network and Auckland Puppy Rescue said they would take them so I met a lady in Hamilton on the Wednesday and transferred them all up there which was fantastic because I was having nightmares about them.

"And after Jacinda Ardern made the [lockdown] announcement I had two people in Ohakune who had fostered for me before and they asked if I would like them to foster some puppies so I met them in National Park and they have three [puppies] and I have four with me."

After two days of craziness and coming and going all over the place with crates and animals, when the lockdown began on Thursday, March 26, the Animal Care Tūrangi shelter was left with four puppies, eight kittens and two cats in residence. A mother cat with five kittens and a starving kitten ("it was literally a bag of bones") rescued from near the Tongariro River, also arrived last week.

Mrs Lewis is fostering the four puppies at her home, one at a time to give them crate training, house training and teach basic good manners and she and three volunteers take it in turns to feed and clean the animals at the centre.

Stacy Lewis of Animal Care Tūrangi with a mother dog and two of her eight puppies. Photo / File
Stacy Lewis of Animal Care Tūrangi with a mother dog and two of her eight puppies. Photo / File

However lockdown requirements mean the visits are brief and because everything has to be cleaned and sanitised, there is no time to spend playing with or socialising with the animals, who are becoming "desperately lonely".

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"We are just going in and out and back to our bubbles. You have to limit everything you're doing."

Mrs Lewis said she has had plenty of enquiries about adoptions but nothing can be done until after the lockdown is finished and in any cases, vets are not doing animal desexing at present, although vaccinations are still being carried out.

It's hard being away from the animals and doing the rescue work she loves, she added.

"My house is the cleanest it's ever been...but I do enjoy rehoming animals and doing rescue."