When the government recently announced parts of the UK, including London and the South-East, will be put under a strict Tier 4 lockdown, it meant more than just disrupted Christmas plans for millions of Brits.
Battersea, one of the UK's oldest animal rescue and rehoming centres has decided to suspend all rehoming and intake until further notice.
Battersea decides to close
Battersea care for more than 7,000 animals each year and their Facebook announcement shocked animal lovers worried about the unwanted and abandoned cats and dogs the rescue centres take in.
The charity's announcement comes after prime minister Boris Johnson revealed there's a new rogue strain of Covid which is more contagious and has seen the number of positive tests doubling in parts of the country. Affected areas include:
- Surrey (excluding Waverley)
- All 32 London boroughs and the city of London
But what does it all mean for pet owners and animal lovers living in Tier 4?
Can I still walk my dog?
Yes, just like in previous lockdowns, you can leave your house to walk your dog. However, you should stay 2 metres away from people outside your household. It's also a good idea to stop people from touching your pet to avoid contamination. If you are showing symptoms of Covid-19, then you should try to find someone else to walk your dog.
Can I let my cat go outside?
If it's normal for your cat to go outside, then don't try to restrict their access to outdoors, although it's a good idea to try to limit their access to just your garden if possible. This is particularly important if your cat tends to make long trips and visit other people's homes. You may wish to get a litter tray for them to encourage them to go to the toilet inside. However, if this isn't possible, try to limit your contact with them on their return and regularly wash all their accessories.
I'm buying a puppy/kitten, can I visit the breeder?
The simple answer is no. The rules for what businesses can open is much stricter in Tier 4. Only essential shops can remain open, such as supermarkets, pet shops, petrol stations, pharmacies, post offices, banks and DIY stores. This means that even if you have been planning to buy a new cat or dog, you must not visit the breeder.
I chose a kitten/puppy before lockdown and they are old enough to leave their mother. Can I take them home?
Even if you chose and paid for a puppy or kitten before lockdown and they are ready to leave their mother, the puppy or kitten will need to stay with the bredder for longer until restrictions relax. Reputable breeders will expect to keep the animals for longer given the circumstances and should be in touch with you to let you know their plans.
What guidelines should I follow as a pet owner?
If you live in a different part of the country, not in Tier 4, then you should continue to follow the guidelines that have been in place since the first lockdown in March.
The new Tier 4 rules began on 20 December and will be reviewed on 30 December. For more information on what you can and can't do under Tier 4, check out the official government advice.
Watch also: Pet owner panic: Can I still take my pet to the vet during Coronavirus outbreak