Pandemic Prompts Rise in Pet Adoptions

Amid the tragedy of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s at least one silver lining. A dramatic increase in pet adoptions is happening at Noah’s Ark Animal Sanctuary and across the country.

Noah’s Ark has taken in 634 cats and dogs since mid-March, a record number and an increase of about 30 percent over the previous four months, says Noah’s Ark Office Manager Maria Brice. The increase is due to the fact that many shelters didn’t accept animals during the COVID shutdown and spring was kitten and puppy season.

Some of the animals went into foster care until they were old enough to be adopted, some returned to owners and many were adopted, says Brice.

“People knew they were going to be home a lot more, so they had time to train and bond with their pets, while having the added satisfaction of the companionship. Companionship is the best reason to have a pet,” she says.

Tyler Gouchenour, 25, and his fiancee, Christina, 30, were planning to adopt a dog in the future, but moved up their plans when both of them landed at home due to pandemic restrictions.

This made sheltering in place more bearable and allowed sufficient time to bond and train “Rosie,” the 8-month-old Beagle they adopted on April 22.

“The shutdown wasn’t as noticeable or as bad because of the dog,” says Tyler. “She gave us more to do than just sit around watching TV.”

The couple did a lot of online research and watched videos on dog training. Rosie helped by being a quick learner with a good temperament, Tyler says.

The couple crate-trained Rosie so she’d be used to it when they return to regular work schedules.
Tyler grew up with pets and Christina didn’t.

“All my sisters have dogs and I’ve always been around other people’s pets, so I knew I wanted one,” says Christina. “It’s nice to have your own dog. She’s so loveable, affectionate and cute.”

Noah’s Ark has seen an increase in the distance people are traveling to adopt a pet. They’ve come from as far away as Chicago, Galena and Southern Wisconsin because of closed doors or reduced hours at other shelters.

The emotional and physical benefits of pet ownership are well-known.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a bond between people and pets is good for our health. Specifically, pet ownership can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels, decrease feelings of loneliness and increase socialization. Daily activities of grooming, feeding and playing with a pet, as well as going on walks and socializing with other pet owners, adds to a sense of well-being.

It’s important to choose a pet that’s a good fit for your lifestyle.

“You have to consider how many people will be involved in the care of the animal, how much time you’re home, and the needs of the particular breed. Some dog breeds need a lot of activity and puppies need to be fed several times a day. Although cats are easier to take care of, they need love and attention, too,” Brice says.

The Noah’s Ark adoption application requests information about the number of people in a home, whether the applicant owns or rents and lifestyle habits.

“If we don’t think it’s a good match, we have the right to deny an adoption,” she says.

In addition to adopting pets, there are other ways people can help Noah’s Ark.

Donations of pet foods are used to stock a pantry for people who can’t afford it. The shelter also has an ongoing need for laundry detergent, bleach, postage stamps and cash donations. Noah’s Ark buys food for the animals so that their diet is consistent, Brice says.

In addition to finding homes for pets, shelters also are interested in controlling the population of feral cats.
Several shelters have trap, neuter, release (TNR) programs. Contact any shelter for information and instructions.

Due to the pandemic, changes have taken place at Noah’s Ark, including reduced hours, visits by appointment only and mask requirements. Volunteer training programs have been put on hold.

The shelter’s largest annual fundraiser, Bark & Wine, originally scheduled in April, has been rescheduled for November, if pandemic restrictions allow for it.

Noah’s Ark is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday; and is closed on weekends. ❚