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Urgent appeal sees SPCA rehome more than 1000 pets nationwide ahead of lockdown

Hundreds of people are taking the nationwide lockdown as an opportunity to extend their family with a furry new member.

Two kittens seen at the Auckland SPCA adoption centre. Source: 1 NEWS

More than 1050 pets were rehomed at the SPCA since Friday, chief executive Andrea Midgen told 1 NEWS.

It's three times more than they've ever done before.

"We are absolutely gobsmacked. We're so heartened by New Zealanders coming to our rescue and the animals' rescue, it's just absolutely wonderful," she says.

In Christchurch, police officers acted as crowd control for people swarming the adoption facility yesterday.

Various SPCA centres around the country, including Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, ended up closing their doors early after rehoming all of their animals.

On top of the pets finding their forever home, another 1800 are being fostered around the country, Ms Midgen says.

"That's gone up nearly 400 and leaves around 1800 animals in shelter centres across the country."

Family adopts a kitten at Christchurch's SPCA Centre. Source: 1 NEWS

While there's been cases of people stockpiling and panic-buying at the supermarkets, Ms Midgen is pretty confident there weren't any 'panic-adoptions' taking place.

"They'd been thinking about it for a while, and had just taken this opportunity with having a whole month at home to be able to do something they'd been considering for a while," she says.

"It's so important that you can settle the animal into your family and your routine, and spend time to make them feel safe and secure. And it's going to be a really great bonus for people that are stuck inside, they've got something else to focus on!"

As for whether it's safe to cuddle your pets during the coronavirus crisis, Ms Midgen says there's no evidence that the virus can be passed from pets to humans.

"People shouldn't be worried about that... but they should practice their hygiene regime, washing their hands and washing their animals, just to make sure."

The SPCA will stay open as an essential service during the lockdown, able to receive incoming animals and look after the animals still in their care.

Ms Midgen says they're working on procedures so they can keep rehoming and fostering out animals in the meantime.

Crowds form outside Christchurch's SPCA ahead of lockdown. Source: 1 NEWS

Inspectors will also continue working across the country, dealing with emergencies and neglect cases.

Under the nationwide lockdown rules, people are allowed to go out and take their dogs for a walk, but they need to keep local and maintain a two-metre distance from anyone they come across.