The COVID-19 Pandemic Has Americans Fostering Pets Like Never Before
There are a lot of things in short supply due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The biggest shortages to worry about are the lack of masks, latex gloves, and ventilators in many hospitals across the United States.
It’s also hard to find toilet paper, paper towels, and hand sanitizer at most supermarkets.
But there’s one thing in short supply that everyone can be happy about: dogs and cats at shelters.
A few weeks back, shelters across the country put out pleas for people to foster pets. The shelters feared that many pet owners will become sick and need their dogs and cats to be temporarily housed. They were also concerned their staff may become sick, too.
Muddy Paws Rescue and Best Friends Animal Society in the New York City area are reporting that local shelters are either out, or nearly out, of dogs and cats that need to be fostered.
In the past two weeks, the rescues have seen a 10-fold increase in foster applications.
“For the moment we definitely don’t have any dogs left to match” with foster volunteers, Anna Lai, the marketing director at Muddy Paws, said according to Bloomberg. “Which is a great problem to have.”
Katy Hansen, a spokesperson from the Animal Care Centers of New York City, says the most common foster parents are millennials around the age of 28 with a roommate.
“They just want to help,” Hansen said according to The Daily Beast. “Having another heartbeat in the apartment is so nice, and another reason to get up in the morning and take care of something, so the focus is not on you and how sad and sorry you are.”
A big reason for the uptick is that New Yorkers have been told to shelter in space so they have a lot more time to spend with a furry new friend. Plus, some may get lonely being stuck in the house without anyone to comfort them.
The Empire State state is the hardest hit by the pandemic and New York City is home to nearly half of the COVID 19 cases in the United States.
“There’s nothing quite like self-isolating with a dog or cat who is just hanging out and enjoying life with you,” Pam Wiese, spokesperson for the Nebraska Humane Society, told The Daily Beast.
There’s a great chance that many fostered pets will find forever homes when the pandemic is over.
“There’s this fun little thing where we call people who end up adopting their foster animal a ‘failed foster,’ when both pet and owner fall in love. It happens quite a bit,” Tiffany A. Lacey, executive director and president of the Animal Haven shelter in downtown New York City, told The Daily Beast.
“We’re seeing people show up in droves to foster,” said Julie Castle, chief executive officer of Best Friends, said according to Bloomberg.
This trend is also happening in Los Angeles, where the disease isn’t nearly as prevalent, but the citizens are still sheltering in space. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals said its Los Angeles office has seen a 70% increase in animals going into foster care.
While the increase in pet fostering is a wonderful trend, shelters are preparing for the opposite to happen in the coming weeks. The coronavirus has led to a huge uptick in unemployment. When that happens, more pets are surrendered to shelters by families who can no longer afford them.
“We’re doing whatever we can to empty all of our shelter facilities,” Lisa LaFontaine, chief executive officer of the Humane Rescue Alliance, said. “We don’t know what’s going to happen when the economic wave starts hitting.”
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