3 December 2020
Animal shelters are empty. Due to the pandemic and people being required to stay home more than normal, many have decided to adopt a pet. Whether it’s a fluffy dog or cat or a scaly lizard or turtle, people wanted companions to fight the loneliness away with during this unique time.
“I said ‘I’m pretty sure this one’s never coming back to the rescue. She’s very much going to be mine’,” said Nanette Allis when recalling the adoption of her furry friend Cookie.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in animal adoptions and fostering. People are home all the time and see it as a great chance to raise and train a new puppy or kitten. According to a USA Today article from September, the community adoption rate has increased from 64% to 73% within this period. Also, according to Lauren Tavar, the Senior Adoption Coordinator for Homeward Trails Animal Rescue, they have “crazy waiting lists now,” and have seen an increase in adoptions “across the board.” Puppies are still the most popular, but cat adoptions have increased as well.
Tavar said there are many pros to adopting during this time- for example, training a puppy. “Having the time to really be able to potty-train your dog quickly is always a bonus, you know; if you’re home most of the day and you’re able to get them out every hour on the hour, that’s certainly better. Also, just in terms of providing exercise stimulation you’re likely going to be able to do more of that while you’re home, especially with a young dog who really needs it, because you can get them out more.”
But are there any potential issues people should be aware of when things hopefully start to return to normal? Yes, and the big one is separation anxiety. This is something Homeward Trails has been stressing to adopters. There are ways to try and prevent separation anxiety, and part of that is in training. Tavar said that while doing basic obedience training, “part of that training needs to be leaving the dog alone for periods of time.” Whether it’s a walk around the block or standing outside for five minutes, it should be done.
Cat owners needn’t worry, however.
“I think the cats will probably be fine. They’ll probably be happy that their people are leaving them,” said Tavar.
Should separation anxiety deter someone from adopting a pet? Absolutely not.
Tavar said that, “as long as you recognize that that’s a possibility and take the steps to mitigate that, then I think that definitely the pros outweigh any cons that might be there.”
Rescues have also had to become creative with the adoption process due to the pandemic. Most of the adoption process has become virtual, minus picking up the animal. Homeward Trails even will do the first meet and greet online if the potential adopter is not comfortable going in person. There are plenty of accommodations that are provided to help people looking to adopt.
If you’re still unsure whether to adopt, Tavar recommends to begin with fostering to see if owning a pet fits in with your lifestyle. Tavar also said people must remember “that this is, you know, not a pandemic puppy. This is potentially a decade-long commitment.”
Fostering an animal is giving them a temporary home before they move on to their forever family. Nanette Allis is a foster for Canine Humane Network and has so far fostered six dogs, and adopted one of them. She said she became a foster because she “needed something to do that I felt was having a positive impact outside of my own little world.” Being a foster means keeping a dog or cat from being stuck inside a cold kennel and letting them into a warm loving home.
“Just playing with the dogs and seeing the transformation” is the best part about being a foster, according to Allis. She recalled witnessing a shy, skittish dog transform into an outgoing, playful puppy.
In order to become a foster at Canine Humane Network, all one has to do is send in an application, pass a small background check, and sign an agreement to not use electronic devices such as shocking collars.
After that, the rescue sends out notifications asking for fosters. At that point the person needs to decide if the dog is a good fit for them. The rescue covers food, toys, and vet visits (as long as you go to their vet).
Unsure whether to become a foster?
“If you’re not sure, don’t do it. You need to really be sure, because you need to be committed to taking care of the animal. Because it’s literally, their lives are in your hands,” said Allis.
She clarified that it depends on why a person may hesitate to foster.
“If your concern is having time for the dog, absolutely not,” said Allis. “As long as they’re willing to make the commitment then they should be okay.”
If people are looking for something to add some joy to their lives during this weird time, they should consider adopting or fostering for a local rescue. Just be quick to pounce on the opportunity to get a puppy, because according to Tavar, “puppies are always popular.”