Sheltering in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus can be boring and lonely. However, something that is rarely lonely or boring is having a new pet. Quarantine has caused a significant spike in adoption and fostering of pets, including dogs and cats.
Many are wondering what to do with this extra time at home, and while being forbidden from coming in contact with others, pets can provide the companionship that people normally do in these trying times.
“Since the crisis started there has been more interest in fostering/adopting. I think with most people home right now they have the time to put into acclimating and adjusting to life with a dog/cat,” a representative for the Tri-County Animal Rescue in Boca Raton said. “Most of our animals are up for adoption, and with everything going on most have already been adopted! We only have about 12 dogs up for adoption right now, which is amazing.”
Additionally, being trapped in the house leaves people with plenty of time to brainstorm healthy outlets during this crisis. Many are looking for ways to help, and adopting and fostering animals can assist the community by taking the burden off of shelters.
“Really, one of the main reasons we wanted to [foster kittens] at first was to occupy us,” English teacher Stacey Lippel said, “but then I soon realized that there was such a need to foster these little babies. I am really happy and proud to be a part of this life-saving process.”
According to the Florida Disaster service website, workers at animal shelters are considered essential workers. Many animal shelters in the Parkland and Broward area are staying open for adjusted hours during this crisis, in order to continue to take care of their animals and attempt to help them find new homes.
“The decision to stay open was easy, we have lives here that still need to be taken care of on a daily basis,” the representative for the Tri-County Animal Rescue in Boca Raton said. “[Our] director made the selfless decision to stay open for adoption to make sure all employees would receive their wages and continue working during this crisis.”
Precautions are being put in place during the physical pickup of animals by new owners, in order to maintain social distancing. Various strategies have been implemented by those adopting pets. Some have dropped kittens in crates at the doorstep of foster parents, or exchanged a puppy hand-over in parking lots. Paperwork has been largely digitized, so the physical pick-up or drop-off of new pets is the main contagion risk.
“We have completely changed the way we do things here at [Tri-County Animal Rescue] regarding COVID-19 safety. All adoptions are done by appointment only, this means potential adopters have to fill out our application and submit to us before coming to the shelter. We then call to let them know they’re approved and make an appointment at their convenience. No one is allowed in the building at this time, we bring the dogs outside to meet them,” the representative said.
Taking care of a pet is also considered an essential service, so many have found an outlet in taking their new dogs out for walks. This allows both the dog and the owner to get some fresh air and sunshine as a break from being cooped up inside.
The extra time at home also makes the training process easier, since owners have more time to spend with their puppy or kitten.
“Lockdown has made having a dog much easier, since we have more time to train her to behave in her new home, and take her on walks when she needs it,” sophomore Mar Acquaroli said.
One issue for new pet owners or foster parents is obtaining supplies. Pet stores are officially essential services as well, but it can be daunting to go out in public, and there is some concern that they may close if the situation worsens.
“The only challenge we had to face because of quarantine is getting the proper supplies when needed,” Acquaroli said.
Stores like Pet Supermarket have attempted to assuage consumer concerns by implementing additional precautions. The Coral Springs Pet Supermarket is limiting the number of customers in its store at one time. Additionally, they have taped Xs on the ground outside, six feet apart, where overflow clients must await entry.
Online pet-supply shopping comes with its own challenges, as wait times for shipping can prove impractical for those with young animals. If a kitten gobbles up food quicker than expected, and shipping is seven to ten days, that poses a legitimate concern for the owner.
“Quarantine and lockdown has placed an additional challenge of having kittens in that I have been ordering things that I need for them online,” Lippel said. “The shipping is slower than I would have liked.”
Overall, many have turned to pet adoption and fostering as a way to find some joy and novelty during the coronavirus. If you’re interested in doing this for yourself, the Broward Animal Care and Pet Adoption Foster Parent application can be found here.