THE coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a halt earlier this year - but even a global shutdown couldn’t stop adorable animals from finding their forever homes.

Despite being forced to navigate strict restrictions and cope with furloughed workers, the talented staff at the Scottish Society for the Protection of Animals (SSPCA) still managed to find a new family for dozens of deserving pets.

The organisation - which has a base in Glasgow’s Cardonald and another in Dumbarton - was prepared for an influx of adoption requests when lockdown hit as people struggled with the new found alone time.

Ally Bibby, assistant manager at the Dumbarton centre, said initially staff feared applicants would only be thinking about the amount of free time they had then - not how often they’d be around for an animal in the long term.

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It was this fear that prompted the decision to offer a fostering service, which has been immensely successful.

She said: “At the moment, we’re doing online rehoming applications and that’s been perfect. It’s a really good way forward.

“It’s like a job application, people are really selling themselves.

“We brought in a foster scheme, which helped us because some of our staff were on furlough, and the majority of our fosters have remained permanently at their new homes.”

She added: “We were really strict with making sure people had a plan for when things get back to normal, whatever that might look like, so we asked all of our applicants what that was.

“All of our fosters who asked to keep their pets, explained ‘alright, I’m working from home just now but, if I’m not in the future, this is my plan’ and we were happy with their responses.

“Our donations have fallen a wee bit because people aren’t able to just walk in, so that’s taken a bit of a hit but rehoming our animals is going well.”

However, sadly, there are still more animals available for rehoming.

This Christmas, will look different for the SSPCA as it attempts to work around Scottish Government guidelines.

The traditional ban on adoptions two weeks prior to and post December 25, in a bid to avoid people bringing a pet home just for Christmas, remains in place, but staff are taking a more flexible approach this year.

“It’s at manager’s discretion,” Ally explains.

“We have someone this week who picked up an animal because they couldn’t travel to us when we were in lockdown earlier this month and the animal is ready.

“They applied months ago and were chosen months ago, so we would rather have animals in homes in those circumstances. It just so happens it’s less than two weeks to Christmas.”

As the year draws to a close, staff at the two centres are hopeful 2021 will bring a forever home for some of their animals, such as Buddy, pictured above with Ally.

The pup is described as a “lovely little dog” but he will need time to adjust to his new owner.

Ally said: “He needs to get to know people in his own time. He’s got a little bit of stranger danger.

“He’s not a bad dog, we’re not worried about him at all, he just likes who he likes.

“He didn’t like us at first but he’s great with us now and when he meets his perfect match, he will bond with them the way he’s bonded with us.

Then there’s Snowflake the guinea pig, pictured with manager Judy Button.

The “beautiful creature” is described as “really friendly” by the staff.

Bird lovers could also gain a pair of lifelong pals, Laurel and Hardy, who, Ally says, would bring a lot of joy to an experienced Budgerigar owner.

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However, one of the bird’s has been diagnosed with deficiency by vets meaning he cannot fly.

The duo will need a home where they are allowed time outside the cage or a specialised cage which can be fully accessed without the need to fly.

For those with pets at home - or thinking about rehoming in the new year - Ally’s advice for easing animals back in to normal life as businesses reopen is do it gradually.

She said: “The lockdowns have been great for pets because we’ve been around all the time, but if it looks like you’re going to be back to work or out of the house more, you should start preparing your animal now.

“Do it gradually, even just going out for a walk for a couple of hours. People will say ‘oh if I’m going for a walk, I need to take my dog’, but this is better in the long run.”

She added: “It’s business as usual for us at Christmas, we’ll still be here caring for the animals but, as always, we’re hopeful next year all of our pets will be spending the festive period in their forever home.”