COVID puppies: after an increase in adoptions, the animals go in peak

The Pope Memorial Humane Society in Dover has playgroups for their animals.


Survivor’s Paws Animal Rescue in Lebanon has always had a full plate.

Owner Shelley Andrews has been rescuing dogs and finding “forever” homes for them for over 30 years. The majority of the dogs were rescued from slaughter shelters in the south – Texas, South Carolina and Louisiana are the most popular, with others seeing occasional visits.

However, since the pandemic struck over a year and a half ago, Andrews and his volunteers have received calls from New Hampshire residents who have had to make the difficult and heartbreaking decision to return their dogs.

“Over the past two months we’ve seen more homeowners come here,” said Andrews, which only became a non-profit during the pandemic after her husband lost his job.

The pet “industry” has seen its ups and downs throughout the pandemic.

Firstly, when everyone was stuck in their house, a lot of people wanted a new dog or cat because they felt they had time to train and acclimate the animal, and spend time with them.

Megan Bassett encouraged Hope and eventually adopted her from the Pope Memorial Humane Society in Dover.

Then, about a year later, shelters began to see an influx of abandoned animals. The reasons varied, depending on animal shelter workers:

  • the realization by new owners that it takes a lot of work and patience to train a pet, obey and be a calm member of the family;
  • people returning to work and not wanting to leave the animal at home;
  • the moratorium on evictions has been lifted, which means landlords can bring in new tenants and decide not to allow pets;
  • and since the stimulus checks were no longer coming in, the new owners could not afford pets.

“When owners abandon their dogs, they often call us in a desperate and desperate fashion,” Andrews said. “They’ve known for two months that they have to surrender and have tried all the other options. Some have to move and some don’t want to train or socialize them and their dog is like a terrible behaving teenager, and they don’t want that.

Shifts of dogs to shelters in the United States increased 4.7% in September 2021 from September 2020, according to the September 2021 report from PetPoint, which compiles information from more than 1,100 protection organizations. animals.

The New Hampshire Humane Society in Laconia has seen calls from residents seeking to abandon their animals almost quintuple.

“Before, we received less than 10 requests per week on average. We currently receive an average of 6-8 calls per day from people abandoning animals due to economic hardship or family housing issues, ”said General Manager Charles Stanton. “We do everything we can to keep pets with their families while realizing that some people are out of breath.

“Work or financial pressure is definitely a factor for the whole family, including pets, and we’ve seen a significant increase in assignments since the moratorium on evictions was lifted. New England families are being hit hard by the closure of many small businesses and the downsizing of countless businesses in the hopes of staying afloat.

The Pope Memorial Humane Society in Dover actually has a name for the many surrenders it has seen.

“We definitely see what we call ‘Covid puppies’ – animals that were adopted then in that one year or one and a half year age range that weren’t socialized,” Amy said. Drapeau, responsible for the refuge. “People are going back to work or the animals have behavioral problems and (the owners) cannot take care of them.”

Sherry Ann Saccoccie actually went in the opposite direction. Instead of returning a dog – she had three before the pandemic – she took another.

The Pope Memorial Humane Society of Dover had time to reassess as it was closed at the start of the pandemic. One of the results is road rage treatment clinics that have relieved a lot of stress for the animals. In the photo, Dr Sarah Proctor, DVM, left, and Jessica Phillips, CVT.

Saccoccie, who lives in Salem, said she wasn’t necessarily looking for another dog, but her latest, Oreo, “balanced our pack.” Saccoccie said she noticed a social media post from a Manchester woman who had to give up her labradoodle due to an apartment situation.

“I hadn’t really looked so hard,” she said. “We already had our hands full with three (dogs). It was just the right opportunity – I was working from home, the girl posted and I saw it, and (Oreo) was cute. I thought it was a good fit. It was sort of a fluke, (we weren’t really looking) and we didn’t need to go to shelters.

The phenomenon of Covid puppies directly contributed to the high number of adoptions at the start of the pandemic.

Drapeau said his facility typically houses an average of around 74 dogs. There were 78 in February 2020, a month before Covid-19 hit the United States. A few months later, in June, they had fallen to 40.

Darbster Rescue seeks to reduce euthanasia in the southern United States by bringing animals to its dog center in Chichester and its cat space in Manchester. In 2020, Darbster saw a 35-40% increase in adoptions.

“People wanted animals in their homes while they were at home,” said Darbster executive director Ellen Quinlan. “We had a 6 to 8 week wait to adopt cats and kittens. Usually you fill out an application and come the next week and adopt.

“We were bringing 15 dogs in a week and they would be gone in two days. We would bring (harder to adopt) bigger dogs and adults and those would fly out the door.

Although Darbster does not accept surrenders, he has been affected by the return of so many Covid puppies to shelters.

At the start of the pandemic, Darbster organized weekly animal transports from the south. Now it’s every two weeks.

“It’s all supply and demand,” Quinlan said. “We saw huge demand when Covid-19 started and now we are coming down to the other side of the curve. I’m sure it will stabilize, but I don’t know when. “


These articles are shared by The Granite State News Collaborative partners. For more information, visit collaborativenh.org.

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