News | 2 April 2020
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You and your furry bubble mates

The Alert Level 4 lockdown has meant we’ve had to make some major changes in our day to day life, and that goes for our furry friends too – even Mittens!

Pets can bring joy, entertainment, and an excuse to get outside and exercise, as we hunker down in isolation now, and for the coming weeks.

There will be many enjoying the companionships of their pets, but it’s also important we prioritise the health of our animals, ourselves and our whānau by following the rules of the Covid-19 lockdown.

With the SPCA recommending cats remain inside, even local celebrity Mittens is grounded for now – and owner Silvio Bruinsma says he’s mostly behaving himself.

“Mittens has become my work from home assistance providing amusement for my colleague interrupting zoom conference calls and has taken it in his stride for now, although I am sure he would prefer to be outside but we must all adjust to a new normal for now. Latte still goes outside as he never goes more than 50 meters!”

The SPCA is considered an ‘essential service’ and is continuing to care for animals during the lockdown. With SPCA Centres closed for adoptions and to the public, all animals will remain in the dedicated care of staff until they reopen.

SPCA's Wellington Centre adopted out more than 125 animals in the five days before lockdown, adding to the 1157 animals who were adopted out across the country during this time.

The charity says its inspectors will continue to respond to emergency calls and urgent animal welfare complaints on a restricted basis.

If a member of the public discovers an animal who needs help from the SPCA, they can call their local centre (04 389 8044) for guidance. They may be asked to care for the animal until the SPCA is able to assist. SPCA centres will still be able to take sick and vulnerable animals into their care.

Walking your pooch

People can still walk their dogs as long as they stay in their ‘bubble’ and stick to streets close to home. Dogs must always be kept on a lead, or well under control in off-lead areas. If a dog wanders from its bubble and it is touched by someone with the virus, that dog could take Covid-19 home with it.

While out walking, people need to keep an appropriate distance away from others and discourage other walkers from petting or touching their pets. People should not drive to a dog exercise area, but walk there instead. Wellingtonians can visit dog exercise areas, but only those which are in their local neighbourhood.

Out of courtesy, dog walkers are reminded to take bags on their outings to pick up after their pets.

Dog registration fees on hold

Some good news for new dog owners is due to the Covid-19 disruption, Wellington City Council is not charging registration fees for dogs registered during the lockdown period. This year’s registration fees are not due until 1 July 2020. More information on fees, registrations, and being a responsible dog owner can be found here.


If a dog goes walkabouts during the lockdown period, rather than taking it to the pound, animal control officers will return it directly to its home (following social-distancing protocols) – providing the dog is registered. If Council doesn’t have contact details for the dog and its owner, it will be taken to the pound in Seaview.

Can Covid-19 be transferred between animals and humans?

There are some myths circulating about whether the virus can be passed between animals and humans. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) says currently there is no evidence animals (pets or livestock) can spread Covid-19. However, people sick with Covid-19 should avoid contact with animals as a precautionary measure.

Keeping up those good hygiene measures

Washing hands before and after dog walking and using hand sanitiser when touching surfaces remains a must. MPI recommends washing hands with soap before and after being around or handling animals, their food, or supplies.

Companion Animals NZ has information on its website about caring for and exercising animals during the lockdown. The SPCA’s website also has lots of useful animal-related information.