Pet shelters across the country experienced a huge surge in adoptions at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, there were so many people seeking animal companions that most shelters couldn’t keep up with the demand. Some attribute these record-high numbers to the rising rates of depression and anxiety because of state-enforced lockdowns.
With things seemingly returning to normal, many of these adopted pets are being returned at an alarming rate, according to a many sources. Unfortunately, a number of new pet owners were not fully prepared to care for a dog or cat in the long term. While pets can bring people comfort, looking after them is a responsibility that not everyone is prepared to handle. Prospective pet owners have many factors to consider before adopting a shelter dog, such as the long-term costs and the necessary adjustment period.
Fortunately, there are many things people can do to adjust to their new responsibilities as pet parents. By making changes to their lifestyles, pet owners will feel more capable of taking care of their furry friends and become less likely to surrender them. For example, pet parents can help relieve their pet’s separation anxiety by setting up a safe space for them in the home. There, they can place comfort items such as plush toys, blankets, and custom dog beds or cat beds.
Suzanne D’Alonzo, Director of Animal Care of McKamey Animal Shelter, advises pet owners to create stable daily routines to match current work schedules. For instance, pet owners can invest in food dispensing machines to keep their fur babies fed while they’re away at work or school. Pet parents may also need to schedule their dog or cat’s potty training sessions during their free time. If time is an issue, pet parents can try asking their friends or neighbors to help care for their furry friends.
According to a news article by The Avenue News, Katie Dixon, director of the Baltimore County Humane Society (BCHS), also advises overwhelmed pet owners to reach out to their area shelters for helpful resources. BCHS, for example, runs a pet food bank that offers assistance to any owners experiencing financial stress. The organization also offers free spay/neuter and rabies vaccine programs.
At the end of the day, pet ownership is no walk in the park. But with the right mindset, support, and resources, pet parents won’t have to give up their beloved animal companions in the post-coronavirus world.
For more pet-related news and stories, visit the PrideBites blog.