Rio pet delivery brings companionship to Brazilians in isolation


RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) – Three-year-old Sansa, a black dog with a white spot on her belly, spent nearly a year in a Rio de Janeiro animal shelter before the coronavirus pandemic restricted visitors, making her odds of being adopted even dimmer.

A worker takes Dorothy to a car before her adoption at a shelter managed by the Rio de Janeiro City Hall, that launched a pet delivery campaign to find homes for abandoned animals, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil May 15, 2020. Picture taken May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares

But then she had a lucky break. The shelter’s new ‘pet delivery’ service found Sansa a home, bringing company to Maria Fatima Cordeiro Marques, a 73-year-old retired nurse isolating in her house alone.

“We’re going through a very difficult moment… It’s hard for everyone, right?” said Marques, embracing Sansa after she arrived in the shelter’s white van. “I’m sure she’ll give me a lot of love and so will I, because it’s a sincere kind of love demanding nothing in return.”

For Rio residents seeking a furry friend to pass the long days in isolation, but unable to visit the shelter, the city will now provide a delivery service. It said it has delivered more than 50 pets since early April.

Rio’s undersecretary for animal welfare Roberto de Paula said demand had been strong, with more than 1,000 people expressing interest in adopting abandoned animals.

“Given social isolation rules, we had to restrict people’s access to the shelter to avoid contagion, so we came up with this idea of taking the animal to each person and conducting all interviews through social media,” he said.

After the online screening, workers identify and suggest the most suitable pets, before spaying, vaccinating and delivering them to the doorstep.

That is how 28-year-old Luaira Paraízo Rodrigues Lourenço adopted her second cat, Joao, to help her deal with the growing distress of Brazil’s accelerating coronavirus outbreak.

“I work with healthcare recruitment and I see things that have left me emotionally shaken,” Lourenço said. “When I’m sad, agitated or confused with something the cats come and bring me that love to restore myself. It’s amazing.”

The Rio animal shelter currently has around 900 animals available for adoption.

Reporting by Sergio Queiroz; Writing by Gabriela Mello; Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

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