Covid-19 creates harrowing situations for pets

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Animal shelter helps pets whose owners have died of covid-19

MADRID: Animal shelter establishes an intervention service for animals left behind

Behind the many deaths from COVID-19 hides even more suffering – the animals left behind when their owner does not return. Animal shelter El Refugio in Madrid set up an intervention service for these poignant cases. 

The many deaths caused by COVID-19 are extremely sad. Not only are family and friends are hit hard when their loved one falls ill and dies. There’s also the suffering of unwitting pets left at home alone when their owner passes away and have no idea what happened to their friend. This is how Nacho Paunero, owner of El Refugio in Madrid, described the situation on the Spanish news site El Español.

El Refugio Madrid stands up for pets left behind

Paunero was a pilot for 30 years and recently a flight instructor at Iberia. He has also run the animal shelter El Refugio for 25 years. When coronavirus arrived in Spain, Paunero set up an intervention service from his shelter. The service tracks down and receives abandoned dogs and cats after their owner has died from COVID-19.

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According to him, this is not an unnecessary luxury. In the first two months in Madrid alone, 62 elderly people were found dead in their home. Their pets remained trapped in the home. This number is up 163% from the same period last year.

Giving a pet a new family is the ultimate goal

Currently, around 120 dogs and cats have been taken care into the shelter. Around 20% were rescued from their former owner’s home during the onset of the pandemic. Fortunately, 8% have already found a new family through the shelter. To make adopting a dog or cat even more attractive, Paunero and his team ensure that the animals are vaccinated and monitored by a veterinarian. 

Animal shelter received hundreds of calls

Since March, Paunero’s shelter has received hundreds of calls from people who have been hospitalised or  someone has died and there is no one to take care of the pet. There are also requests for help from outside the Madrid region, which he unfortunately cannot always help with.

Paunero wants to contribute to a better world and to give the animals a beautiful life again. Unfortunately, he is aware that Spain is in the midst of the third corona wave and there are still many animals in Spain that could use his help. “For the time being, our goal with the intervention service has not yet been achieved.”

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