How to adopt, rehome or foster a cat or dog during coronavirus and social distancing

Although the coronavirus pandemic and social distancing make it difficult to rehome pets at the moment, there are options for families looking to adopt or foster cats and dogs.

The RSPCA continues pets during the crisis, which means it has thousands of pets that need new homes. And the charity has worked with Defra to agree a process that allows it, and other welfare charities, to rehome animals safely.

The rehoming guidelines were created by Canine and Feline Sector Group, which is made up of organisations that advise the Government on cat and dog health and welfare issues, and have been approved by Defra.

Rehoming centres will remain closed to the public but it’s still possible to adopt.

See all of our pets and coronavirus guides here.

How to adopt or foster with the RSPCA

Here’s how the new process works with RSPCA.

First, you can find an animal that is available for adoption near you on their find a pet page. You must live within an hour’s drive of the centre where your animal is being cared for.

Then follow these steps:

  • Complete a Perfect Match form and email it to the rehoming centre
  • The RSPCA will discuss the potential adoption or fostering via phone or video call
  • Adopters and fosterers will get to virtually meet their potential pet through videos that show their behaviour to give you an idea of the pet's personality
  • The RSPCA will conduct home visits virtually, through photos or videos of your home
  • Pets will be transported to their new homes and handovers will observe social distancing
  • Ongoing support will be done virtually.

Prepare for long-term pet care

Many people may be considering getting a pet to help them through this period but it’s important to think of the months and years of pet ownership ahead too.

With families at home, it may be a good time for some people to help a pet get used to a new environment. But remember that many vets and pet charities are also dealing with coronavirus and may not be operating as normal.

And make sure you’re able to give a pet the care they need for life. This involves giving them enough time and being able to afford the food and care they need. And consider pet insurance to cover potentially expensive vet bills.

If you do feel ready to become a pet parent see if you can help one a RSPCA pet who needs a loving home.