A viral video from a California animal shelter made the internet rounds, celebrating the fact that all the kennels were empty and there were no pets left in the shelter.
The heartwarming video was not an exception. All around the US (and beyond), pet adoption is soaring. However, it remains to be seen whether all these adoptions are permanent, or whether some pets will be forced to return to the kennels after the outbreak eventually starts to fade.
Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told NBC News that they are seeing a massive, 70% jump in animals being adopted or fostered in New York City and Los Angeles. Similarly, Vice President at the Pasadena Humane Society Jack Hagerman told the Los Angeles Times that his shelter is seeing a “massive uptick” in pet adoption. When the Animal Care Centers of New York City sent a call for 200 foster volunteers, it received 2,000 applications. In Florida, Friends of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control reported empty kennels for the first time in the shelter’s history.
The US isn’t the only country to see this type of trend. The UK is also reporting a massive increase in pet adoption and in France, a lockdown exception was made for people who were going to adopt pets.
It makes a lot of sense in the solitude and stress caused by the pandemic to look for the comfort brought by a pet. Studies have shown that pet owners tend to be healthier, happier, and report fewer feelings of anxiety and distress. Simply put, pets can be an excellent help in trying times.
However, shelters are also bracing for an increase in owners surrendering pets, either to shelters or as strays — especially as the virus infects and kills more people, and as the economic impact of the epidemic is starting to be felt more and more.
Shelters urge people to consider carefully whether they really want to adopt a pet — it’s a lifetime commitment that should be taken seriously.
But for now at least, it’s one of the very few positive things to come out of this pandemic.
“We don’t know what will happen as the numbers of sick and deceased increases, nor do we know what impact the financial stresses might have,” Jim Tedford, president and CEO of the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, told USA Today. “But for now we’ve seen communities step up and help reduce shelter populations rather than the other way around.”