Pet adoptions on the rise during pandemic

A room overflowing with dogs in kennels, some quivering, their eyes glazed with fear. Others lunge onto the bars attempting to play, and one dog with a huge smile and droopy tongue barks with all the air in his lungs. Each new face is a potential adopter of a dog that was abandoned, abused, lost or the previous owner was unable to care for. Every pet owner has chosen an adoption method to get their precious animal, but a very common one among dog and cat owners is to go to a local shelter even in normal times.

During the pandemic, animal adoptions at shelters have dramatically increased, animals being in such high demand that in some cases left shelters nearly empty. At the Broward County Animal Care and Adoption Center, there were only 7,509 animals taken into the shelter from March 15, 2020-2021 as compared to 13,225 from the year prior. 

Adoptions were a much lower number during the pandemic, but as a percentage of intake, it may actually be higher. Our intake was also substantially reduced during the pandemic closure, resulting in a lower actual number of adoptions,” program project coordinator Caroline Gipson said.

These numbers reflecting Florida shelters show how they do not possess the necessary quantity of animals for people to adopt, a contrast to previously overcrowded shelters.

I think it has been good for shelters because a lot of people want to adopt dogs and now is the perfect time since everyone is home,” junior Abby Greenbaum said.

Since the pandemic began, animal shelters have been swarming with possible adopters. Coronavirus leaves much of the population isolated, leading people to open up their hearts to an animal, now that they’ve acquired the time to care for one.

“Pets can fill a void and it’s something to control and take care of in an otherwise uncontrollable situation,” English teacher Ginger Viola said. 

While some turned to shelters, others went a different course. Science teacher April Brown went to a pet store called Puppies & Rescues but dealt with the “Rescue” side of it. She adopted a rescue dog named Nadja who is part Shiba Inu, Pomeranian and Mini Goldendoodle. 

She is my puppy BFF and I love her so much!  I love having a built in activity companion and excuses to go on walks. I take her to WHS Baseball and Softball games,” Brown said.

Twin sisters Gianna and Kiarra DeVito started fostering two Tuxedo kittens Shelby and Targa for service hours. After some time, they became attached and decided to make the situation permanent by adopting them.

They also make me feel like I’m not alone,” junior Kiarra DeVito said. “One of them especially loves attention, so she loves to be around me.”

Sophomore Hailey Ray recently adopted a pit bull named Hurley from the Broward County animal shelter on December 1.

She makes me really happy and gives me an excuse to just step away from my school work which is very stressful due to online school,” Ray said.

Animals have always played a significant part in pet owners lives, but COVID has given them new roles. In addition to companionship, animals have become coping mechanisms, reducing stress and anxiety.      

She’s like my child, she follows me everywhere and is very playful, [she] constantly wants attention, I adore her,” junior Sthefany Orsini said about her Bombay cat Middy. 

During this age of isolation, senior Antonio Garrido joked that people are harder to get along with in comparison to pets.

Being with the same people all of the time makes tensions rise,” Garrido said. “Being with the same pet all of the time is usually a lot easier than being with people because animals almost never get tired of humans.”

Through the excitement of many pets being adopted, there is also concern that they might just be quarantine pets or that people are getting them on a whim. Between cleaning up after them, bathing and feeding, a pet is a lot of work. 

I am happy that they were adopted, but hope that the families know what they’re getting into,” Viola said.

Although coronavirus has disrupted our world, it has built a new place where pets are on a pedestal. Animals who have always deserved a home are now finding this a new possibility of life, while people are uncovering the friendship and love that come with owning an animal. The pandemic has cleaned out shelters, given animals forever homes and shown people a new way of living.