If your COVID-19 quarantine is the reason you’re thinking about adopting a new pet, you’re not alone.
Lots of people and families have been running to shelters to adopt a pet. They have also been looking online: Petful’s adoption search page has seen a 152% jump in traffic this month versus the same period last year. Yes, a “petdemic” has swept the country.
Not everyone has been fully prepared for the responsibility of caring for an animal, however. Sadly, shelters are beginning to report an uptick in abandoned pets.
If you adopt a pet only because you are stuck at home right now, we will indeed have a petdemic of another sort on our hands after this phase of COVID-19 is over.
Your home confinement is temporary. Your new friend is with you for life.
Think About Fostering as an Alternative
If you’re on the fence and not sure you can keep a pet after things become “normal” again, consider fostering a pet instead of signing those permanent adoption papers.
Although shelters are always looking for permanent homes, they don’t want newly adopted animals returned to them after the stay-at-home restrictions loosen up.
- If you foster, the shelter has provisions in case the pet is returned.
- But if you adopt a pet, they are not planning for that pet to come back into the shelter.
Many foster situations do indeed end in permanent adoption, but be honest with your shelter in this tough time.
Be Honest With Yourself
Many people were thinking about adopting a pet before COVID-19 hit.
For those folks, now might be a great time to adopt.
If you didn’t think about a pet previously but now you are considering getting one because of your current lifestyle under quarantine, please think seriously before you adopt and look over the checklist below.
Think about life with that pet after life returns to some degree of normalcy.
Checklist for Adopting a Pet During COVID-19
- Do I have enough time to devote to a new pet?
- Is this the right time for my family to acquire a pet — shared responsibilities, kids are old enough, etc.?
- Is everyone in my house on board?
- Does my lifestyle lend itself easily to include a pet? Do I travel too much? Do I work long hours? Am I willing to find a pet sitter, puppy daycare, etc.?
- What kind of pet best fits my/our lifestyle?
- Do I have the money to care for a pet — including food, pet sitters and veterinary care?
Scenario 1: Now Is a Good Time to Adopt
Say you’ve been honest with yourself and you are in this pet adoption thing for the long haul. You are serious about a lifelong commitment and are going into your COVID-19 pet adoption responsibly.
Here is why it’s a good time to adopt:
- You’re home. Of course it’s a great time to adopt a pet, particularly a dog, while you’re at home all day and night. It’s always a good time to adopt a cat, of course, but a cat commitment is easier than a dog commitment.
- Being stuck at home means it’s great for training, socializing and bonding with a new pup. Cats, too, are really happy to have their people around even though they may try to act otherwise. Kittens seem to keep themselves hysterically busy with or without you, but if you’re home, you can monitor their shenanigans — for example, by removing them from hanging objects such as curtains and your best dress.
- You are lonely, depressed or anxious. Don’t think adopting a pet for any of these reasons is selfish. It’s only selfish if you stop thinking about that pet once you’re feeling better! Many people who already have pets at home are cherishing them more than ever right now. In this time of crisis, either personal or global, your pets can be your best friends.
- You can work and take care of your pet at the same time. Many people don’t adopt a pet because they are at their jobs for long days and don’t think it’s fair to a pet. Perhaps you can use these weeks at home to establish a relationship with your new friend while working on a plan for pet care when you go back to work. Perhaps COVID-19 will bring about some changes in certain sectors of the workforce where working remotely will become more common.
- Walking your dog gets you out of the house and is a welcome remedy to cabin fever.
Scenario 2: Now May Not Be a Good Time to Adopt
- While some people are at home suffering from boredom or loneliness, other folks feel busier and more out-of-control than ever. People who are working long hours remotely and have kids at home without child care or school may feel like they’re drowning.
- Would this be a good time to take on a puppy, for instance, that needs lots of attention and is not house-trained yet? Kids are bugging their parents right now to get that long-promised puppy.
- Unless you think those kids are really going to pitch in and help with their new furbuddy, the stress of a new pup while working from home and home-schooling might be overload.
- Veterinary care has been limited in many areas. Make sure the pet you adopt is current on basic vaccines and flea/tick/worming needs. For young animals, find out if there is a plan for your puppy or kitten to get necessary booster vaccinations. If you are a first-time pet parent, these first few weeks and months often require a number of veterinary visits and it’s a time to establish what may be a lifelong relationship with your vet.
- Person-to-person face time is currently limited as many veterinarians are doing drop-off appointments only.
- While you can speak with technicians on the phone and do telemedicine with your vet, it certainly isn’t the same as bringing your new pup into a friendly neighborhood veterinary clinic and becoming part of that practice’s family.
- Socialization of your new dog with the outside world is difficult right now. There may be no puppy or training classes being offered for the next several weeks. While you can wave to somebody else with a dog on your walk, social distancing is critical right now.
- The realities of COVID-19 mean your financial security may be in jeopardy. A new pet means a new expense, often more than most people budgeted for. A 2018 survey by Rover.com found that people thought a dog cost between $26 and $75 a month. The real figure? These folks were spending on average $153 a month. In case you lose your job or are waiting for financial assistance, will a new pet be a financial burden?
- Another sad reality is the possibility of you contracting the coronavirus. If you are positive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends avoiding contact with your pets, including snuggling, kissing and changing the litter box. And forget about dog walking. If you are sick at home or in the hospital, you need to have pet care in place.
As if we didn’t have enough to worry about, now we are learning about pet adoption scams during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Final Thoughts on Adopting a Pet During COVID-19
My hope for all of you is that you are enjoying your pets more than ever, and that lots of new households are experiencing the joys of furry family members for the first time.
I know my pets are enjoying COVID-19-time. We have been enjoying one little acre of peace and quiet in beautiful rural Pennsylvania for much of this time.
They have been my greatest joy and distraction as I pray for the people of the world to endure, survive and come out on the other side.
- Google Analytics data for Petful.com, May 2020 vs. May 2019.
- Whitten, Sarah. “Animal Rescues Are Going to Need More Help Than Ever Once Coronavirus Restrictions Are Lifted.” CNBC. April 11, 2020. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/04/11/coronavirus-increased-pet-adoptions-now-rescuers-face-new-challenges.html.
- Cuoco, John, and Brooke Coupal. “Animal Rescue League of Boston Sees Uptick in Abandoned Pets Outside Their Shelters.” 7 News Boston. May 6, 2020. https://whdh.com/news/animal-rescue-league-of-boston-sees-uptick-in-abandoned-pets-outside-their-shelters/.
- Carlton, Amber. “5 Ways Cats Are Easier to Live With and Care for Than Dogs.” Catster. July 17, 2014. https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-dog-behavior-health-care-food-travel-easier.
- National Institutes of Health. “The Power of Pets: Health Benefits of Human–Animal Interactions.” NIH News in Health. February 2018. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/sites/nihNIH/files/2018/February/NIHNiHFeb2018.pdf.
- Lister, Kate. “Work-At-Home After Covid-19—Our Forecast.” Global Workplace Analytics. https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/work-at-home-after-covid-19-our-forecast.
- Pesce, Nicole Lyn. “People Are Spending $1.7 Billion on Valentines for Their Pets.” MarketWatch. Feb. 14, 2020. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/pets-are-fetching-886-million-in-gifts-this-valentines-day-2019-02-14.
- “COVID-19 and Animals.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 30, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/animals.html.