Animal adoptions hit all-time high

COVID-19 social distancing practices have made it easier for people to welcome animals into their homes

a photo of Cupid the dog available for adoption at the Toronto Humane Society.
Cupid, one of the many dogs up for adoption at the Toronto Humane Society. Courtesy Toronto Humane Society

Over the past several months, animal shelters and rescues have received an enormous amount of support from people wanting to adopt animals.

With most people being homebound due to COVID-19, they have more time on their hands to welcome a companion into their homes.

The Toronto Humane Society has received more than 8,000 applications to adopt animals since its closure in March, public relations specialist Hannah Sotropa said.

“It has been tremendous to see how many people want to offer their homes to animals during these times,” Sotropa said. “They notice there’s a need and they want to find a way to offer and give back to the community,”

Since the Toronto Humane Society closed, it has had to change its adoption process drastically to comply with social distancing and safety protocols.

Pre-covid you were able to walk into the shelter and, if you found an animal you wanted to adopt, you could go through the entire adoption process in under two hours.

Now, with social distancing in place and the shelter’s closure, the process takes a lot more time.

“Just due to having to coordinate phone calls and availability, it prolongs the process just a little bit,” Sotropa said.

An applicant now has to visit the shelter’s website to choose which animal they are interested in adopting and fill out an application for it.

Anime, one of the many dogs available at the Toronto Humane Society

Courtesy Toronto Humane Society.

Once the adoption agents go through the applications, they set up a phone interview with the potential adopter, which lasts roughly an hour and a half.

Then a meet-and-greet with the animal and adopter is set up during the following week, turning this whole process into something that can last almost 2 weeks.

Adoption Manager Taylor Turner of Fetch and Releash has also seen a drastic change in the animal adoption process during this pandemic.

In her experience through this foster based rescue, she’s found the process of adopting an animal is moving more quickly with all the social distancing changes they’ve made.

“People don’t have the same working schedule or the same social schedule as before, so people are very eager,” Turner said. “When they apply for the dog, they are looking to bring the dog home as soon as possible.”

Fetch and Releash has a similar adoption process to that of the Toronto Humane Society. 

You still need to visit their website to send in an application for a dog you are interested in adopting.

Being a foster based rescue, they don’t have a central location they work out of, so all of their dogs are kept in foster homes for a minimum of two-to-four weeks before becoming available to be adopted. 

Pre-covid potential adopters would be brought into the foster homes to meet the dog, but now with social distancing protocols they’ve had to put this process on hold. 

They now bring these meet and greets to outdoor spaces to keep up with social distancing protocols. 

With the reopening of businesses and companies slowly calling their employees back to their offices, a huge question mark has been looming over shelters and rescues.

What is going to happen to these adopted animals once people’s schedules go back to what they once were?

So far neither the Toronto Humane Society nor Fetch and Releash have seen animals being brought back as people start to go back to work. 

But they are both urging people with adopted animals to be proactive and not reactive. 

“If they can already start, while they’re working from home, to make it a gradual adjustment then they are setting themselves up for success when that time does come that they have to go back to work,” Sotropa said. 

The Toronto Humane Society and Fetch and Releash also offer virtual sessions with animal trainers that can help you to acclimate your pet to feeling safe in your home while you’re at work. 

Virtual Training Classes & Consultations from the Toronto Humane Society Youtube Channel

There are also various dog walking services and animal daycare services for people concerned their pet will be left alone for too many hours in the day. 

‘“I think you just really need to do your planning up front,” Turner said. “Don’t jump to any conclusions, and just really take a look at your schedule, best case scenario worst case scenario, and figure out how you’re going to integrate a dog into that.”

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Posted: Oct 5 2020 10:45 am
Filed under: COVID-19 News