Shelters say they're seeing an influx of people fostering and adopting pets to serve as companions as states shut down to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Mandatory lockdowns and nationwide bans on social gatherings to prevent further spread of COVID-19 are resulting in an unexpected consequence: More pets finding homes.
Shelters across the country are reporting an uptick in the number of individuals signing up to foster and adopt dogs and cats.
Because many states have cracked down on gatherings of more than 10 people, and in some states have even banned non-essential employees from work, shelters are in need of people to foster or adopt pets to clear out their facilities.
And people are meeting those needs.
"We are seeing a surge in offers to foster pets ... while [people] are at home," the New Jersey based Liberty Humane Society said in an email.
The shelter called the foster program "life-saving."
Kate Mayo, a teacher in the Dallas-Fort Worth area of Texas, is one of those foster pet parents. She recently took in a 7-month-old basset hound beagle mix named Luna.
— Kate Mayo (@k8mayo) March 18, 2020
Mayo said she has helped out at her local Humane Society before, and given that the shelter is now closed to volunteers, she decided to heed the call and foster a dog to help lighten the workload for the full time staff who remain.
"I currently have a 12 year old basset, and he's not too crazy about [the new dog's] puppy energy," Mayo said. "We've been working on 'sit' and 'down,' and she's learning quickly!"
She added, "She's definitely keeping me from sitting around all day!"
Kim Siegel, a Delaware resident, also signed up to foster a dog as the coronavirus outbreak forced people back into their homes. She said she did so after the Delaware Humane Association sent out an urgent request for foster homes to "help their staff reduce exposure" to the virus.
Hey @darth @dogrates today I brought home Morgan, a 6mo w/kennel cough who is going to hang here until her shelter ppl don’t need social distance. She’s very nervous & doesn’t get why she can’t live in the yard or play with the other dogs she can hear. Show her some love? pic.twitter.com/2wyBxWQd6R
— Kim Siegel (@siegelka) March 18, 2020
"I live alone and my work and travel schedule are primarily why I haven’t had one of my own," Siegel said. "But with [COVID-19] putting so many people at risk, I’ve wanted to do whatever I can to help."
Siegel chose a 6-month-old dog who is currently fighting off a case of kennel cough.
"It’s been less than 48 hours and we’re both adjusting and learning to trust each other," Siegel said, adding that her friends have helped with offers of supplies and advice.
Lala Wu, who volunteers at a local rescue organization in San Francisco, decided to help foster Angie, a dog with health complications, on March 10 — just as the COVID-19 outbreak was starting to impact life around the country.
"Fostering has helped my community stay sane, and close to each other. It's incredible how quickly you can grow a strong bond with a dog — I would bet this is even truer in times like this," Wu said.
Jen Krazit and her husband are fostering two cats, after they read that shelters were in need due to a lack of volunteer assistance.
"We have a dog, but our cat died just before Christmas, so we have room in our home and in our hearts," Krazit said. "We're also both working from home now, so I figured it would be easy to give a foster lots of attention."
And dogs aren't just finding temporary homes in the middle of the crisis. Some are settling into their new abodes for the long haul.
Allison, who did not give her last name but goes by @ripple70 on Twitter, said that her family had been looking for a new dog to keep their 6-year-old Bichon company, but was worried about bringing one into their home due to their work schedule.
However, after the coronavirus canceled school for her two children, and Allison knew she would be home for an extended period, they took the plunge and brought home a rescue Bichon they named Rosey.
— @llison 🙈🙉🙊 (@ripple70) March 19, 2020
"I just so happened to see a post from a puppy mill rescue on Facebook last Thursday about an 11 month old Bichon girl that they were looking to adopt out," she said. "On a whim, I sent in the application that afternoon only to find out later that evening that my kids' schools would be closed for 2 weeks and I'd be working from home."
She added, "It seemed strangely like fate."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.