In the past week, three of my friends have adopted dogs. A bunch more have organised to foster a pet. In a reversal of the usual circumstances, many people interested in getting a dog are struggling to find one. Shelters are reporting that adoption requests have jumped from one or two a day to dozens. New York City is literally running out of dogs as everyone has the same idea to self isolate with something furry.
In Australia some people are driving to other towns and regional areas just to find an available animal. Even dogs that have struggled to find homes (older, larger, or less popular breeds) are being treated like the coolest kid in school. Forget toilet paper, pets are the latest must-have social distancing item.
What’s Behind the Surge in Dog Adoption?
As we’ve mentioned before, this is a golden time to be a dog. If you were toying with the idea of dog adoption, but weren’t sure you were ready for the commitment, it’s the perfect opportunity. Even if you hadn’t considered getting a pet, it’s starting to look like a pretty appealing move. We’re spending all our time at home, searching for distractions, comfort, and someone to go for a walk with who we don’t need to stay two meters away from.
Adoption centres, shelters, and foster groups saw this wave coming and have been encouraging people to pick up animals for weeks. Even through the shutdown organisations have adapted by offering appointment only and virtual adoptions. As well as moving puppy schools and training online.
In the US, GreaterGood.org have partnered with NBCUniversal on a national effort called #StayHomeAndFoster, that encourages people to help out countless homeless pets at risk of being euthanized due to the impact of the pandemic. While in Florida animal rescues are working to match dogs and cats with senior citizens who may be feeling especially isolated during social distancing.
The Case for Dog Adoption
None of this is surprising of course. You might be feeling strung out by your empty schedule and repetitive routine, but all this time and energy is exactly what you need when you have a new pet. Currently you don’t need to worry about leaving them alone, running home to walk them, or trying to find time for training.
Not So Fast Now
This is obviously great news (for people and animals). But just because you’re desperate for someone to snuggle with doesn’t mean you don’t need to be practical about this very big decision. Dogs are amazing, but they’re a huge responsibility. You need to think beyond how you want someone to go for walks with right now and be realistic about committing to them for several years.
As great as it is to see so many animals find homes, we need to avoid a crash of pets being surrendered when everyone goes back to regular life.
Other Ways to Help
If you are interested in getting a pet, but aren’t sure if you’re able to commit long term, fostering can be an alternative way to help an animal. Or, if you have the means, consider donating to an shelter or rescue. That way you can help ensure animals are safe and protected, without having to make a decade-long commitment to anyone.
For more resources on getting a dog, check out: