Among all of the tragedies that the novel coronavirus has unleashed on the world, there is at least one silver lining: Animal lovers are stepping up to adopt and foster rescue dogs and cats across the country.
Not only are people coming to the aid of overwhelmed animal shelters who’ve had to close their doors to the public during this global pandemic, but they also seem to be making the best of a bad situation. After all, if you have to socially isolate and quarantine at home, why not use the time to get to know and integrate a new pet into your life?
In New York, which is currently the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S., some rescue organizations like Muddy Paws Rescue and Best Friends Animal Society are reporting a significant increase in applications in the last two weeks and that some shelters that they work with are running out of animals. Shelters in other places like South Florida, San Diego and Minnesota have also reported an uptick in pet fosters and adoptions.
“We’re seeing people show up in droves to foster,” said Julie Castle, chief executive officer of Best Friends, to Bloomberg News.
Here’s a Twitter post from @bestfriends, pointing out how people have stepped up.
The result of #COVID19 forced opening of a new channel to save homeless pets: loving homes across the nation opened up after animal welfare organizations' call for fosters. The overwhelming response from the community has been incredible: https://t.co/zmJ9xaBwgB. ^ND pic.twitter.com/YVDOsfFCal
— Best Friends (@bestfriends) March 27, 2020
The attached blog post notes, “Shelters large and small have tapped into the kindness of their communities to push the boundaries of their shelter system to include the community. And innovation is the order of the day.”
In order to encourage more animal adoptions at this time, organizations are thinking of out-of-the-box ways to encourage people to adopt and foster, even though many shelter locations are closed to in-person visitors. For example, Busch Beer has partnered with the Midwest Animal Rescue in Minnesota and is offering a 3-month supply of beer in conjunction with adopting or fostering a dog from that organization.
Here’s their Twitter post promoting the effort:
Everyone could use a companion for the couch right now. So if you foster (or adopt) a dog from Midwest Animal Rescue, we’ll give you 3 months’ worth of Busch to enjoy by their side. Go to https://t.co/S58CM3Z6OM to learn more.
— Busch Beer (@BuschBeer) March 25, 2020
Meanwhile, North Carolina’s Wake County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has started streaming a daily Facebook live video called the “Home Adopting Network” to show off its available animals and answer questions from prospective pet parents. The shelter is closed now, but still taking applications and donations. Here’s a recent edition of the live video, which explains their current situation:
However, there’s more to be done. Some rescues are still not expecting to facilitate as many adoptions as before since they have shut down and canceled adoption events as a result of the pandemic and people can’t come inside to meet the animals. People who rescue animals also worry about the fate of pets in the near future as the economic shutdown takes a toll on families’ incomes. Spring is traditionally a busy time for rescues because of litters of baby animals being born and coming in.
If you’re considering adopting or fostering a pet in the coming weeks, experts recommend getting started by contacting your local city or county animal shelter. According to the CDC, there isn’t a risk of contracting COVID-19 from a pet. And studies have shown that spending time with a pet can actually lower stress levels and relieve the feeling of loneliness, among other benefits.
“Having a pet around … is good for your head,” said Eric Rayvid, a spokesperson for Best Friends Animal Society, to HuffPost. “It’s going to take you out of yourself a little bit. If you get a dog, it’s going to force you to go outside. If you get a cat, it’s going to force you to spend some time cuddling.”
In other coronavirus pet news, this dog was spotted being walked by a drone.
Pets can certainly be comforting in times of stress. Are you tempted to help the cause?