Animal shelters see spike in pet fostering amid quarantine

One unexpected upside of an indefinite global quarantine?

Bored people who are stuck at home seem to be adopting and fostering pets at an unprecedented rate — so much so that shelters in New York City, the United States’ coronavirus epicenter, are running out of cats and dogs.

Anna Lai, the marketing director at NYC-based Muddy Paws Rescue, told Bloomberg a majority of the shelters her organization works with are either all out of or nearly out of cats and dogs, following a COVID-19-fueled surge in applications over the past two weeks.

“For the moment we definitely don’t have any dogs left to match with foster volunteers”, Lai told Bloomberg, calling the issue “a great problem to have.”

The phenomenon isn’t just confined to the Big Apple, however — shelters in other major cities have observed the same trend.

Melissa Levy, the executive director of the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), told the Philadelphia Inquirer her group was able to place 123 animals into foster homes between March 15 and March 24 this year, up from 38 during the same 10-day period in 2019.

In Los Angeles, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) recently reported a 70% jump in animals matched with viable foster homes, according to Bloomberg.

“So many people are becoming fosters right now because they’re in such an unusual situation of being home and having time on their hands they don’t usually have,” Levy told the Inquirer. “It is one tiny silver lining in all this.”

If you are among the thousands who are considering fostering or adopting while stuck in quarantine, there may be good cause to do so, as long as you’re in a stable enough situation to provide a home for a four-legged friend.

For one, training a new pet of any age requires a lot of hands-on work — which is, naturally, all the better to do when working from home.

Not having to go into the office also means you won’t have to hire a walker or anyone else to look after or feed your pet during the workday, a major cost-cutter.

Not to be forgotten are the mental health benefits of having a pet, which are definitely something to consider during this time of anxiety, uncertainty and isolation.

A 2017 study conducted by psychologists at Miami University and Saint Louis University found pet owners were happier, healthier and better adjusted than non-owners.

According to lead researcher Allen R. McConnell, PhD, of Miami University in Ohio, pet owners fared better than non-owners in “several dimensions.”

“Specifically,” he added, “pet owners had greater self-esteem, were more physically fit, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, were more extraverted, tended to be less fearful and tended to be less preoccupied than non-owners.”

If you’re considering the rewarding commitment, check out the ASPCA’s local rescue pet finder tool here.

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