Happier days are ahead for a beloved 53-year-old pet tortoise whose owner died of COVID-19.
Ms. Jennifer, a “very sweet” reptile, came to the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ Boston adoption center on May 9, communications director Rob Halpin told HuffPost.
Her owner, who had become ill from the novel coronavirus and was unable to continue caring for her, died around two weeks later. Before falling sick, the woman had “absolutely doted” on the 4-pound tortoise and loved “showing her off to friends and strangers alike,” MSPCA said in a statement.
“We’re doing all we can for Ms. Jennifer both because she’s a very special animal and because we hope it brings some measure of comfort to the family of her former owner, who we know would want her in the best and most loving home that we can find,” Halpin told HuffPost in an email.
At 53 ― staff held a birthday party for Ms. Jennifer on Wednesday ― she’s believed to be MSPCA’s oldest adoptable animal ever. She also has a winning personality.
“She loves attention from staff and volunteers at the adoption center,” said Halpin. “She’s social, loves to be outside. She’s just a really special turtle!”
Ms. Jennifer us still up for adoption, but there’s already been massive interest and MSPCA is confident she’ll have no trouble finding a home.
“The MSPCA’s adoption center has now received over 400 inquiries from potential adopters, all of whom have expressed a sincere interest in her, so it’s only a matter of time before we place her into a wonderful new home,” said Halpin. “We’re so excited about her future, especially given the sad nature of her surrender.”
MSPCA is prioritizing adopters who live “locally” in Massachusetts or neighboring states. Any adopter will also need to make sure they can meet her specific needs.
“Ms. Jennifer will need lots of fresh produce (and grass!) and she loves fresh fruit, too,” Halpin said. “And she thrives on time outside on warm days, so someone who is committed to providing her these essentials — along with some basic knowledge of caring for reptiles — is the ideal adopter for Ms. Jennifer.”
Since the pandemic started, MSPCA has received about 10 other animals “from homes in which their owners have either died, become too ill to care for them or have been financially devastated as a result of the economic fallout,” he added.
Animal shelters and rescue groups around the U.S. are working to care for pets who have lost their homes as a result of coronavirus. Many are also trying to help people keep their pets amid financial difficulties. New York City, the U.S. epicenter of the pandemic, has coordinated with multiple animal rescue groups to create a “COVID-19 Pet Hotline” to provide information and help connect people with resources like pet food or lower-cost veterinary care. MSPCA has distributed tens of thousands of pet meals to food pantries around Massachusetts, where Halpin noted the pandemic is having a “profound effect.”
“We believe there will be more animals coming to us in the weeks ahead as a direct result of the crisis that continues to unfold,” he said.