Animal rescues

Animal rescues report spike in pet adoptions amid coronavirus pandemic

While most shelters are closed to visitors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, animal rescue organizations are reporting a significant increase in the number of people interested in adopting a pet.

Hillary Rosen, Founder and President of A useful rescue in Los Angeles, says the sudden demand for pets has overwhelmed the nonprofit, which rescues and houses dogs from shelters. A Purposeful Rescue removed its online intake application because its team of volunteers could not handle the influx of requests.

The non-profit organization rescues senior dogs and dogs with medical needs. Shelters are calling about specific dogs, but Rosen says social distancing has changed the care process.

After some pre-pickup organization, shelters bring the dog outside to a volunteer wearing gloves and a mask, she says.

“We still have to go out and help these animals while we’re all home,” she says. “So we’re just trying to find this weird balance.”

Helpful rescue still made it easy to meet in person outdoors under social distancing guidelines two to three weeks ago, she says, but has since decided to hold off for now.

Most people who adopt have wanted a dog for a while and make a thoughtful choice, she says. She adds that many people who would look for a dog in the summer when they are at home adopt it a little earlier.

“I hope we do a good job of making sure these animals stay in homes forever,” she says. “But I think, for the most part, we embrace people who are very serious.”

With new pet owners in the home all the time, the nonprofit has dog behavior issues.

When people adopt, many people plan to stay home with their new dog all the time. But that’s not what’s best for the dog, Rosen says.

“Everyone is home right now and it’s not normal,” she said. “I feel like when this is all over, we’ll have a lot of dogs with separation anxiety.”

Rosen encourages stuck-at-home pet owners to create a sense of distance and independence with their pets. She recommends using a crate and refraining from giving pets too much attention to prepare them for their owners’ return to normal routines.

“If you give a dog so much love and affection all day, it creates anxiety,” she says. “I would encourage everyone to take a step back from that.”

With many unknowns and unanswered questions on the horizon, Rosen says she is concerned about what will happen when shelters reopen and if people will continue to donate to the nonprofit.

“In the back of my head, I want to be thoughtful because I don’t know what the future looks like,” she says. “We’re just trying to be super, super thoughtful through this process for animals and for humans.”

Marcelle Hutchins produced and edited this broadcast interview with Peter O’Dowd. Allison Hagan adapted it for the web.