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Pet adoptions on the rise during lockdown

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Everyone’s life has been altered during the coronavirus pandemic as we adjust to the current version of the new normal, a situation that applies to dogs and cats waiting to find their forever homes.

Since COVID-19 forced the province into a lockdown, many animal shelters and sanctuaries throughout the region have seen a rise in adoptions. This is being attributed to more people having the time to welcome an animal into their homes and help them get acclimated to their new family and surroundings.

“There has been a rise in inquiries for adoptions – with people at home, they’re definitely thinking that this could be a good time for them to get a four-legged family member,” said Kathrin Delutis, executive director of the Humane Society of Kitchener Waterloo and Stratford Perth. “For us, adoptions have not gone up, it’s dropped dramatically. But that’s because we followed the orders of the province.”

The Humane Society is one place where adoptions were on hold for the majority of the pandemic, as Delutis says they were following government guidelines and adoptions were not seen as an essential service. However, the organization restarted its adoption process within the last two weeks and, since then, the number of people interested in puppies has gone through the roof.

“We had, for example,10 puppies that went up for adoption last Monday morning (May 11), and they were all spoken for within the hour. We had multiple… applications for each of them and certainly we know that people want to adopt during this time.”

While adoptions were on hold, the Humane Society “ramped up” its foster program, taking in animals that were in need. Now that adoptions are taking place again, these animals are available through a new online process.

Delutis says this new no-contact process involves submitting an application through an online form and talking with an adoption counsellor if the application is approved. Once the application is approved, the family will get to meet the animal, and they are encouraged to take their new pet home the same day.

Even though the Humane Society put adoptions on hold, a local cat sanctuary has continued to find homes for their feline friends. Pet Patrol in Woolwich has seen a spike in adoptions throughout the pandemic, with more than 20 cats being adopted during the week of March Break alone.

“People who had been thinking of adoptions before (the pandemic decided) that this was a great time to integrate the cat into the house because they’re home,” said Pet Patrol director Jan. “It’s been hugely successful for adoptions.”

Jan says they normally have upwards of 100 cats between the sanctuary and foster homes, with at least 60 cats in the sanctuary alone. As of last week, there were less than 20 cats in the sanctuary.

The rise in adoptions is good for the animals in need of a home, however, Delutis says she is expecting people to come in once the pandemic is over and return the animals that were previously adopted.

“People who have adopted during the pandemic may not have thought through the process and may find that it is more challenging once they return to the workplace and more of the new normal. We are concerned that following the pandemic there will be a higher request of people wanting to surrender their pets,” said Delutis.

The organization’s philosophy is to work with pet owners to try and find a solution to the problem that may be causing them to surrender their pet. However, she is aware that there may be no solution and the animal will have to return to the shelter system.

Delutis says the human and pet bond is vital, especially during times like these, for mental health. While she always wants to find homes for animals looking to be adopted, she wants people to take a look at their lifestyles and ensure there is a fit now and in the future before they commit for the long-term.

Those interested in adopting an animal can get more information on the KW Humane Society or Pet Patrol websites.

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