Animal Rescues See Spike in Pet Adoptions as People Turn to Dogs, Cats and Chickens for Comfort While in Self-isolation

Josephine, left, and Nora Caplan, both 13, hug their new dog, Pepper Corona, a 2-year-old blue heeler who was adopted this week from Homeward Trails in Fairfax, Va. (Julianna Caplan)

But as coronavirus news started to spread this past week, the waiting list skyrocketed from 10 to 40 would-be adopters. “And we had 30 adoptions in three hours at that event alone,” said Mirah Horowitz, the rescue’s executive director.

Forget, toilet paper, milk and hand sanitizer: There’s now a rush to stock up on real necessities, such as cats and dogs. And rabbits and fish, even a couple of chickens.

As millions of people across the U.S. work from home and schools close, the promise of companionship even in a time of isolation is prompting some to take in animals. Many say they finally have the time to properly train and care for a new pet. Animal rescuers across the country say they are seeing spiking interest in adoption and fostering, as well as offers to help everywhere from open-admission shelters to smaller nonprofit groups.

In California, where 40 million residents were ordered on Thursday night to stay home except for essential jobs or trips, like getting groceries, Gov. Gavin Newsom noted an important exemption.

“You can still walk your dog,” he said.

That was part of the appeal for Kathy Shield, a University of Berkeley graduate student. After years of wanting a dog, Shield on Thursday adopted a 2-year-old brown and white dog from the Milo Foundation shelter in Point Richmond, California and named him Atom.

“I’m a nuclear scientist so it’s very on brand,” said Shield.

The timing was ideal, because Shield is working from home and can help the Atom adjust to his new environment. She’s also excited to have someone to talk to, even if he doesn’t have much to say back.

Plus, it will help keep her on schedule. “Having a dog is going to force me to get up early in the morning because at an absolute minimum, I have to let it out to pee,” Shield said.

The decision to adopt pets flies in the face of some conventional wisdom that discourages adding a new animal to a household during a stressful or busy time of the year, like the holidays. But the novel coronavirus has created an almost parental leave-like situation for many people – instead of a sleepless newborn, though, they’re teaching a dachshund puppy not to chew on the ottoman.

“There’s no question that animals provide incredible comfort and companionship, especially during times of crisis – and they certainly appreciate the attention – so we encourage people to continue to adopt or temporarily foster animals in need,” said Matt Bershadker, president and chief executive of the ASPCA, in an email.

Shelters need the help. Some animal rescues in big cities are closing their doors to help prevent the spread of coronavirus between people, but the animals still need to be cared for. Many organizations are hoping to find foster homes for their remaining charges, and are still processing requests and handing off animals while closed to the public.

Animal Care Centers of NYC – an open-intake shelter that received about 21,000 animals last year – put out a call for additional foster homes on March 13.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Greenwich Times, Kim Kavin and Heather Kelly