Friday, 17 September, 2021
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The group rescuing pets orphaned by Covid in Indonesia

The group rescuing pets orphaned by Covid in Indonesia

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For Desy Siswanto and her husband Tonny, their three dogs were very much a part of their family.

But when the pandemic ravaging Indonesia killed Tonny, Desy, who was also debilitated by Covid, found it too hard to care for their fur babies.

She got help from Animal Defenders Indonesia who took in her pets.

The group says that animals with no-one to care for them is a real issue in the pandemic and have launched an initiative to rescue them from homes.

Indonesia has recorded more than three million infections and nearly 100,000 deaths since the pandemic began.

Called AD19, the imitative was started on 2 July by a group of five volunteers.

People suffering from serious infection or relatives of pet owners who have died can contact them online or phone them for help.

"We provide free health services to people who find it hard to look after pets because of Covid," the founder of the organisation, Doni Herdaru Tona, told the BBC. They also provide pet food for families who have lost income because of the pandemic.

They have rescued around 40 dogs and cats so far and keep them at a facility which has capacity to take in around 50 dogs and 50 cats.

Given there are only five volunteers however, Mr Tona said they carefully screen requests and prioritise truly desperate situations, such as when a pet owner is critically ill or has died.

In one case, the group were called in to a situation where six dogs were guarding the body of their master who had recently died of Covid.

Overwhelmed hospitals mean that many people are being asked to self-isolate without access to treatment, which has led to a number of people dying in their homes.

They also take pets from homes like Desy's where looking after them becomes too challenging.

In cases like hers, Animal Defenders return the pets to their owners once they have fully recuperated. In other cases where the pet has been "orphaned" they look to rehome them.

Mr Tona said that they are looking to hold an animal adoption day later this month to try and find forever homes for the dogs - people will be carefully assessed to make sure they are a right fit for each animal.