There are reports on both sides of the pond (US and UK) that there is an ongoing increase in cat and dog adoptions because of lockdowns during the coronavirus pandemic. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home has reported an increase from 29 cat adoptions last year at this time to 69 this year. That’s a huge increase. It is the same for dogs. This looks like great news. I reported on an animal shelter in the US which was entirely devoid of cats and dogs.
The Daily Beast website tells us that there has been a surge in pet fostering and adoptions in America since the lockdown. They agree that it is good all-round but there is a caveat which occurred to me and others: what happens when we all return to ‘normal’? Will some of these people return their newly acquired ‘pets’ who were adopted for a specific purpose when the purpose no longer exist, namely to entertain them during weeks of confinement.
Fostering seems a compromise solution and a lot of people have taken this route as it allows them to temporarily have a pet for the duration. They can release themselves from the responsibility of looking after a cat or dog when they are adopted from them as foster carers.
However, this development has to be one of the silver linings of the crisis. Cats and dogs are getting far more attention as people now have much more time to devote to their companion animals, fostered or owned. Many pet owners are simply unable under the modern pressures of work life to be good companion animal guardians.
There are some remarkable stories coming out of America on fostering pets. Animal Care Centres of New York City (ACC) say that when they asked for foster care applications they expected 50 but received over 3,500! ASPCA say that they have seen a near 70% increase in rescue animals going into foster care compared to the same time last year.
I’d expect some shelters to be preparing for some returns after the crisis. The potential problem that this presents may be compounded by a slowing in donations due to financial belts being tightened. A lot of people will be in debt and in financial difficulties after the coronavirus pandemic as they are unable to work.
There is also the unknown. How long will the pandemic last? Will it come back in a second and third wave? We can only be relatively safe with an effective vaccine but that takes a year to develop, manufacture and distribute. And will the virus mutate rendering the vaccine impotent?
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