Pass by a dog park in Brooklyn and chances are you’ll meet a few new pet owners.
Jake Gofman and his fiancée adopted their puppy, Mishka, from Safe and Sound Satos in October. “She was like a second-wave pandemic puppy,” he said.
Pet owners say their furry friends bring structure to the amorphous days of coronavirus-related lockdowns and companionship when socializing is discouraged. And more time at home means more time to spend with a brand new puppy.
“It’s just a really good time to raise a puppy and teach him all the good habits, but also to make him very dependent on you too,” joked Gofman, who usually works from home but also told his fiancée. went remote amid the pandemic.
Gofman isn’t the only one to adopt.
Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit animal welfare organization that operates no-kill shelters across the country, has seen the effects of that firsthand.
“We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of fosters and adoptions across all of our programs. Here in New York, we’ve seen thousands of adoption inquiries completed with people requesting animals,” said said Best Friends spokeswoman Hannah Stember.
A single foster family orientation event, held online, had more than 1,000 attendees, according to Carolyn Fitzgerald, senior rescue program manager at Best Friends.
“We’ve had full support from our foster system – from new foster homes to old foster homes – so much so that it was overwhelming that we had more foster homes than pets. in our program,” she said.
Fitzgerald, who bred five dogs and adopted two amid the pandemic, explained why she thinks it’s such a popular trend.
“Animals don’t care about COVID. They don’t care if you have a job, if you’ve worked 12 hours and you’re on your 20th Zoom call. They’re just like, ‘we love you ‘”, did she say. “The sheer joy of having them in your life is what really inspires people.”
The sudden surge of interest in promotion and adoption was good news for Best Friends, which moved all of its resident pets out of shelters and into foster care when the pandemic hit. The nonprofit has also begun migrating many of its operations online, hosting virtual meet-and-greets with potential adopters, and even hosting drive-through kitten adoption events.
But for all the pets that have found new homes amid the coronavirus pandemic, millions more could be left homeless as the pandemic rages on.
“If someone is evicted from an apartment where they have a pet, and their only option might be an apartment where pets are not allowed, there is a member of their family who is suddenly in danger,” Castle said. “So what can we do to help curb this?”
Best Friends tackles this problem in several ways. The first is to educate people about available resources that could help them keep their pets, such as pet pantries and temporary foster services. The association offers its support to municipal shelters to increase the chances of a positive result for animals abandoned there. They have also begun to expand their own foster networks to ensure pets end up in foster homes, rather than shelters. For Best Friends, moving away from the concept of shelters as pet homes has been a long-term goal, one Castle said the pandemic has actually helped accelerate.
“It’s a big transformational shift for us to rethink animal shelters not as a brick and mortar facility, but as the community and the community truly stepping forward to help with homeless pets,” she said.