York charity which keeps pets with their owners during crisis appeals for help

A YORK charity which cares for pets during their owners’ time of crises has said it will continue its crucial work through the coronavirus outbreak, as it experiences an increase in demand.

Jake the dog is walked by Keep Your Pet volunteers. Picture: Scott Merrylees

Founded in 2012, Keep Your Pet aims to help older people across York and Selby keep their animal companions despite medical emergencies. It looks after pets while their owners are taken ill, have a hospital stay and even helps to care for them after they return home - all so they don’t have to lose the ones that keep loneliness at bay.

Committee member Ann Petherick said the service, which is a collaboration with Age UK York, would continue to support the health and welfare of vulnerable pet owners during the outbreak as it recognised “how especially important the company and security of a pet can be at this time, not least in maintaining a routine and sense of normality”.

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However, the stringent lockdown measures introduced by the Government has hit the charity’s annual fundraising event, a sponsored dog walk at Knavesmire on May 3, and it is appealing for donations to help it continue its work.

Keep Your Pet volunteer Diane Roberts with dog owner Phyllis Woodwarrd pictured in 2016. The charity has now introduced social distancing measures so it can continue its work through the coronvirus outbreak. Picture Scott Merrylees

Ms Petherick said: “Keep Your Pet is funded almost entirely from donations and our fundraising events.

“The dog walk is the most important of these as well as the opportunity for us to meet with so many supporters. The pandemic is likely to have a major impact on our other fundraising events as they all involve getting people together.”

The charity was fortunate to receive more than £5,000 in a grant from the Co-op last year, which will help, but anyone who is able to donate is asked to do so through its website.

In the meantime, Keep Your Pet volunteers and staff have introduced new hygiene and distancing measures to enable them to continue to support those who need it, but keep safe.

“A lot of our volunteers are retired, and others have concerns about going out so it is all a juggle at the moment,” Ms Petherick said. “But we have introduced measures such as telling volunteers not to go into anyone’s home and use their own leads, and telling dog owners to leave their pets outside ready for collection, to limit contact.

“While we have had more volunteers come forward, they will take time to process, so the best thing anyone can do to help us to donate anything they can.”

For more information contact 01904 866070, [email protected] or visit www.keepyourpet.co.uk