There are silver linings peeking out from behind the coronavirus cloud.
As the sky was darkened by the pandemic, masking and practically imprisoning families in their homes, many Atlanta Jewish families sought to adopt dogs, as the Atlanta Jewish Times reported in its pet issue last month.
Families figured that while schools were closed and parents were working from home, they had the time to adjust with a new pet. That, in turn, led many dog rescue volunteers to fear that the animals would be returned to shelters as soon as the economy reopened.
Noting the skyrocketing applications for dogs, Dorie B. Sokol – a long-time rescuer and foster parent of dogs – expressed apprehension that those new dog owners would abandon their animals to shelters. “People turn in dogs for the dumbest reasons,” she told the AJT.
Fortunately, however, because the pandemic continues to cast shadows on everyone’s lives and livelihoods, the fear pets would be abandoned by new dog owners hasn’t materialized.
“We’ve had fewer returns, knock on wood, than we expected. The families have had time to get dogs acclimated,” said Becky Cross, director and founder of the Atlanta Lab Rescue, with which Sokol is involved.
This is true on the national level as well. According to Lindsay Hamrick, director of policy for the Humane Society of the United States, “Statistics show that people are NOT returning animals. Nationally, the return rates for cats and dogs to shelters is 30+ percent less than it was this time last year,” Hamrick emailed the AJT.
“Additionally, citizens are still stepping up to foster animals at a rate higher than last year.”
Indeed, Cross said, “we’re over the hump. The fact that the coronavirus has gone on this long has worked to our advantage. And having the dogs has helped people get out of the house more. We’re still getting a ton of applications. I thought it would drop off.”
Certainly, the HSUS has promoted the fostering and adopting of animals during the COVID-19 sheltering in place. “It has been uplifting to see how the community stepped up to foster and adopt pets during the time of COVID-19. This crisis highlighted just how many wonderful pets in Georgia are available and waiting for their forever homes. Pet adoption is always a good option to add a furry friend to your family,” said Debra Berger, Georgia director of the HSUS.
Since no one has a crystal ball to foresee when, or if, schools and workplaces will return to normal, animal rescue and humane society workers are suggesting that it’s not too early for new animal owners to have a plan to provide care for the pet when they return to work.
The Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association, an affiliate of HSUS, has produced a webinar to help people and their pets with this transition, “Post-Pandemic Pets: Tips on Transitioning Companion Animals as Shelter-in-Place Orders are Lifted,” www.youtube.com/watch?v=XX6j438BHpY&feature=youtu.be.