Spain abandons fewer pets despite corona year

by Lorraine Williamson
abandoned pets

During the lockdown, more pets were adopted and then abandoned. Nevertheless, 6% fewer animals were abandoned. However, Christmas is also an important moment when extra thought should be given to a dog under the Christmas tree.

Data from the Affinity Foundation, which released the latest figures on pet welfare in Spain on Tuesday, show that in 2020 some 286,000 pets (roughly 162,000 dogs and 124,000 cats) were taken into animal shelters in Spain. 

More adoptions and more pets abandoned during and after lockdown 

During lockdown in Spain, between March and May, 15% more animals were adopted from shelters than usual during that period. However, in the months that followed, the number of animals abandoned increased. In that period, on average, between 5% and 10%, more animals were left behind than usual. 

Less than half of shelter animals find a new home 

Despite this increase, about 6% fewer pets were abandoned for the whole of 2020 than in previous years. In 2020, fewer (11.5%) dogs were adopted from shelters compared to 2019. This is the largest drop in years. Moreover, less than half of all animals taken into shelters last year have found a new home. 

During the presentation of the figures, it was said that the rebound in the number of animals abandoned after the lockdown is something the foundation would expect. “People are just not always aware of the care and responsibility that comes with having a pet.” 

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A dog is not just for Christmas 

However, the presentation was not only intended to look back on the past and how human behaviour affects animal lives. Through a marketing campaign, the foundation made a special children’s book to raise awareness that giving a pet at Christmas is not always the most responsible choice. 

People are the gift for animals, not the other way around 

With the book, the foundation wants children to understand people are ‘the gift’ for pets, not the other way around. People should be aware that it is not just a very special Christmas gift, but a responsibility that must be taken for a long period of time, including care and unexpected costs that not everyone can afford. 

Historic step for pet welfare in Spain 

At the beginning of December, the Spanish government already took a significant step in this area by considering animals no longer by law as utensils, but as living beings. This move is of historic value for a country like Spain, where 40% of households have pets and some 20 million pets live there, according to data from veterinarians in Spain. 

Related post: Lessons on dog care

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