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Pet Adoption Surges During Pandemic

Pet adoptions have soared since the first wave of shelter-in-place restrictions were put in place. Everything stopped. No work, no school, no dining out, no parties with friends, no weddings, no family reunions, no vacations. With the disruptions in people’s schedules, time opened up for a pet.

It seems clear that Americans, stuck at home, decided to fill the gap with puppies and dogs, kitten and cats. Or, perhaps the surge was driven by an upswell of kindness influenced by the sadness of Covid-19. Certainly, pets can reduce stress and deliver an unparalleled mid-pandemic dose of happiness.

No matter the reason, this uptick in fostering and adoption is the silver lining for animal lovers and adoption centers alike. For benevolent nonprofits such as the San Francisco SPCA, the message has always been, “Don’t Buy, Adopt.” And the goal is “a loving home and a lasting bond.”

The Washington Post reported, “What began in mid-March as a sudden surge in demand had, as of mid-July, become a bona fide sales boom. Shelters, nonprofit rescues, private breeders, pet stores — all reported more consumer demand than there were dogs and puppies to fill it.”

All over the country, prospective pet parents had to be placed on a waiting list. Nevertheless, animal adoption centers emphasize that the situation changes rapidly. New strays are brought in every day, so they hope new pet parents will maintain their interest and be just a little bit more patient these days.

“There has been an explosion in adoptions during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people have been at home with more time to spend with a puppy or new pet. However, the lockdowns and social distancing have led to fewer opportunities to socialize new adoptees through exposure to other people, pets and experiences. The result is a dramatic uptick in the number of puppies and dogs experiencing separation anxiety and other behavioral issues. Participating in an expert-led puppy social or puppy preschool program is an excellent way to prevent and address these normal behavioral challenges. These programs provide a safe environment led by pet care professionals to facilitate proper play and answer your pet care and training questions.” Dr. Laura Weis, co-owner of Doylestown Veterinary Hospital & Holistic Pet Care with her husband Dr. Ransome Weis.  

Related: Consider Adopting an Older Dog

In Michigan, Bissell Pet Foundation partnered with 84 shelters nationwide to find homes for nearly 3,200 dogs and cats under its first-ever campaign called “Empty the Shelters,” offering reduced fees for adoption.

By early April, the Riverside County Animal Shelter in Southern California reported to Instagram audiences that there were absolutely no pets left for adoption. “We cleared the shelter!” the staff proclaimed to nearly 20,000 viewers, showing off all the empty animal pens in a video. That week, all the dogs and cats were claimed at Chicago Animal Care and Control’s Adoptable Pets program.  

The trend showed no signs of letting up as quarantine dragged on. By late April, USA Today reported that Google searches for the key phrase “adopt a pet” had surged about 335 percent in volume according to a data and trends analytics company, SEMRush.

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