COVID-19 has caused many concerning shortages, but here’s one that’ll actually make you smile. Many shelters across the country report running low on cats and dogs because so many more people are fostering or adopting right now.
Animal rescue organizations have experienced a major surge in foster and adoption applications, especially in regions hard-hit by the coronavirus. In New York City, some shelters reported as much as a 10-fold increase in applications in March. “For the moment we definitely don’t have any dogs left to match,” Anna Lai of Muddy Paws Rescue in New York told Bloomberg. “Which is a great problem to have.”
A spokesperson for Animal Care Centers of New York told The Daily Beast that, in the past week, they only had about 25 animals in the shelters. “Normally we have about 600,” Katy Hansen said. “We did an emergency foster callout last Friday and thought we’d get under 50 applications. We got over 3,500.”
The uptick certainly makes sense. Cats and dogs can be a life-saving companion for folks who are in self-isolation or quarantine.
“I think people are gravitating towards pets during this time of uncertainty because they can serve as a source of comfort,” Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, told CBS News. “The companionship of pets has been shown to reduce stress and lower anxiety, helping people to feel calmer and more secure when the news from the outside world is distressing.”
Animal rescuers are concerned, though, that the current “boom” will eventually collapse. New pet owners may surrender animals in droves when they eventually have to go back to work or if they can’t afford to take care of them. Also, many pet rescues rely heavily on donations, and people may not be able to give as much right now.
Most importantly, there will always be dogs and cats in need. Shelter employees are hoping that interest remains high, even after lockdown ends. For those who don’t want to commit to adoption, fostering is always an option. It’s “one of the single most important things anyone can do to decrease the number of dogs in shelters across the country,” Allison Seelig of Hearts & Bones rescue said. And there’s truly no better way to improve your quarantine experience.