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April 1, 2020

All creatures great and small need your help during COVID-19

After a desperate plea from the RSPCA SA, South Australians have adopted more than 555 animals, but the organisation continues to need urgent support.

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  • Words: Farrin Foster
  • Pictures: Supplied


Since reaching out to its network and the greater South Australian community last week, the RSPCA SA has adopted out more than 555 animals, but the organisation still needs urgent support.

The extraordinary crisis call came as COVID-19 hit the charity. The wholesale shutdown of South Australia resulted in fewer volunteers being available to care for animals while a rapid drop in donations hit the charity’s bottom line as they had to close op shops and cancel dog training classes among other revenue generating operations.


Three ways to support the RSPCA SA during COVID-19

1) Donate to the COVID-19 crisis appeal or become a regular monthly donor.
2) Adopt an animal. Keep an eye on the adoption page and be sure to respect COVID-19 adoption protocols and make an appointment before attending an adoption site.
3) Care for your own animals and look out for those in your area. Only surrender animals to the RSPCA SA if it is an emergency.

Fearing for the ability of a reduced staff and volunteer cohort to sustainably care for animals in shelters and the possibility of animals being stuck in shelters for months if a lock down was instituted, the RSPCA SA appealed to the public.

“In all my working life, I’ve never seen firsthand such an outpouring of goodwill, all of it being directed towards animals in need of homes,” says RSPCA SA CEO Paul Stevenson.

Among those who responded to the call is artist and teacher Jelena Vujnovic, who began sharing her home with Jordan, a cat, last Friday after attending an adoption appointment at the RSPCA SA’s Lonsdale shelter.

“It’s the perfect time to adopt and I knew they were over-run,” she says. “She was one of the first cats that I saw at the shelter, but I kept looking around.

“But then she looked really scared and really smart and also the way the woman [from the RSPCA] talked about her, there was so much affection. I coaxed her out and she let me pat her when she was eating, so there was trust there immediately.”

Jordan was adopted last week and looks purrrfectly (sorry-not-sorry) happy at home in Jelena’s house.


Jordan – who was found as a stray and only spent a couple of nights in the shelter before being adopted – has settled quickly into her new home.

“She’s cuddled and has snacks regularly,” says Jelena. “I actually forgot to worry about the pandemic for a night when I got her.”

As of Tuesday, there were only 16 animals still awaiting adoption at the RSPCA SA, but this number is fluid. In total the organisation continues to care for more than 461 animals – many of which are in foster care or awaiting de-sexing or other veterinary intervention, and will soon become available for adoption.

As well as requiring ongoing support to find homes and care for these 461 animals, the RSPCA SA is facing continued challenges in funding its other essential work. The charity employs seven inspectors who perform animal rescues and respond to reports of cruelty, abandonment, and neglect.


The RSPCA is buoyed by an enormous influx of volunteer and foster carer applications since these appeals have been launched, but in response to social distancing requirements and health concerns, it has – as of Saturday evening – suspended the use of all on-site volunteers.

It has also temporarily suspended foster carer applications while it processes the more than 1,700 received last week.

These functions and other services – such as boarding animals for people who are hospitalised or providing home vet checks – are under threat from a huge shortfall in funds.

“In the past week, we have seen the income streams we rely on for the daily care and rescue of animals either dwindle or completely dry up, to the point where our budget forecasts show we will soon suffer losses of more than $100,000 a week,” says Paul.

“We must replace the income we’ve lost so that we can continue this vital work for animals.”

An appeal for donations is being made through the COVID-19 crisis appeal and the organisation is urging anyone who is able to sign up as a regular monthly donor.

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