How COVID Increased the Demand of Forever Homes
By: Ivana Gatica
August 11, 2020
Shelters have seen a massive increase in adoptions and fosters all across the country since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. However, while shelters are deemed essential businesses, many temporarily shut their doors to the public in March to protect their animals, staff, and volunteers. States’ lockdown orders also put extra strain on shelters’ resources, leading to reduced staff and in some cases the halting of nonessential procedures like neutering. Five months later, as shelters start to reopen, the demand for adoptions and fostering is evident.
Shelters, like many other businesses, had to quickly shift to online business practices in light of the pandemic. Virtual adoption events, curbside fostering and adoption, and online training for volunteers are just a few of the ways shelters are pivoting their efforts to keep their staff and volunteers safe during this time.
According to USA Today, these virtual home tours adoption events led to a spike in adoptions and viewership, demonstrating how people are eager to do their part by helping animals and shelters.
Even though people rushed to shelters to foster and adopt, there will always be more animals looking for a home. People want to find love and comfort in animals right now, making this a great opportunity for pet care businesses to consider adding a fostering or adoption program. By doing this, shelters who have cleared some of their kennels can focus their efforts on helping animals that may need more immediate care.
Arielle Mohr, a young professional living in Los Angeles, is a great example of someone who looked at this pandemic as an opportunity to help animals in need. She started fostering dogs back in March.
“I love dogs so much and I definitely want to adopt one someday when I have more time. When the lockdown started and I was home all the time my friend suggested it. Fostering was perfect for me because I get the benefits of having a dog without committing,” says Arielle. Many people turned to fostering and adopting to combat feelings of isolation and anxiety brought on by states’ stay-at-home orders.
Arielle fosters through Walk Me Home Rescue Group, an all-volunteer donation-based non-profit in California. Arielle says that prior to the pandemic, Walk Me Home used to host a lot more in-person events to interact with the animals. These events are slowly starting to come back as lockdown restrictions are lifted. House visits to get fostering and adoption approval have gone virtual though and will most likely remain virtual for the foreseeable future.
Arielle lives with a roommate, but having a pet to care for during these unprecedented times was a great way to lift her spirits. “The best thing about fostering a pup is having the constant company. They also get you motivated to go outside and take a walk. Quarantine can be very isolating and make you stir crazy, but having a dog forces you to get some fresh air and exercise.”
The last dog Arielle fostered was named Chloe, a sweet and loving pup who loved to cuddle all day long. Arielle had the chance to take Chloe to the beach for the first time. “Chloe was so happy she started running laps around me. Seeing the pure joy of dogs experience things for the first time is the best,” says Arielle.
There are so many advantages of fostering and adopting for both pet parents and shelters. For pet parents, a little furry companion can help fight feelings of loneliness, anxiety, stress, and isolation. For shelters, clearing their kennels means they can make room for other animals in need of urgent help. The shift to virtual adoption practices has allowed shelters to continue their efforts to find animals their forever homes and help owners find their forever friends.