SOUTH DAYTONA – Inside the Daytona rink, Benjamin, 2, walked the rink with what looked like a small bottle of champagne in his mouth.
“Guess I’m going to have to buy him one now,” Allison Comport said of the squeaky toy with the words “Dog Perignonn Champagne” her English Bulldog had taken a liking to.
The lovable pup was returned earlier this year when he needed expensive emergency surgery his former owners couldn’t afford.
“I could tell from the medical records that they had done a very good job of taking care of him up to this point,” DeLand resident Comport said July 15 during the Halifax Humane Society Christmas on the Dog Park on Ice theme. .
It was the shelter’s first major event since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
While countless people have found themselves working – or at least spending more time at home – some animal shelters across the country have seen a surge in adoptions at the height of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.
“The community has grown considerably,” said Barry KuKes, spokesperson for the Halifax Humane Society, adding that there were more foster families than usual.
According to Rover, the world’s largest network of pet sitters and dog walkers:
- 66% of people who adopted during the pandemic already owned a dog and / or cat
- 40% adopted from a rescue or non-profit organization
- 93% of people said their mental and / or physical well-being improved with a pet
- Over 80% said having a pet made work and life at home more enjoyable
But the combined figures for March and April 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 show a drop in the total number of dogs and cats entering shelters, according to PetPoint, a website that collects data from more than 1,100 organizations. protection of animals in the country. . The data also shows a decline in home buybacks and adoptions.
Animal welfare organizations say one of the reasons is that many shelters were operating on a smaller scale during the height of the pandemic and were not able to accommodate as many animals as usual.
While some shelters have resumed normal operations, these organizations are seeing their numbers return to pre-pandemic levels.
The trend in recent years, according to shelter data, shows a decline in most areas: the number of animals that have entered shelters; the number of animals transferred by their owner; and the number of animals adopted, according to PetPoint data. The number of adoptions, however, consistently exceeds the number of assignments.
Back to work, back to the shelter?
However, some shelters across the country have reported that a high number of pets adopted during the pandemic have returned now that owners are returning to work, animal welfare groups say.
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These groups are also reporting that some pets were returned during the pandemic due to job loss or declining income.
But an increase in owner surrenders, so far, is not evident nationally, Alexander Craig, director of media and communications for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said Thursday.
“As there is always a risk that pet owners will not be able to provide adequate care for their animals during any crisis or disaster, it is important that people, shelters and communities are prepared. to all the animal welfare consequences that could result from this ongoing crisis, “said Craig. “We encourage any pet owner who is considering adopting their pet to contact a shelter or rescue organization so that staff can provide advice and assistance.”
For Halifax, which has been called a deathless refuge since January 2020, around 25% of animals adopted during the pandemic have been returned, KuKes said. The rate of return is generally closer to 15%.
It was mostly dogs that were rendered because “cats are a bit more independent,” KuKes said.
Victoria Figueroa, director of New Hope Animal Shelter (formerly West Volusia Humane Society), said adoptions so far this year have been stable, but numbers generally slow during the summer.
She said she had not seen any discounts in New Hope attributed to owners returning to their offices or traveling for work.
“We are very grateful for that,” Figueroa said.
Amy Carotenuto, executive director of the Flagler Humane Society, said that while the shelter sees more owners surrender than she would like, she wouldn’t describe it as important.
From March 2020 to the present, 185 pets have been returned, compared to 256 from March 2018 to July 2019, according to Carotenuto.
Carotenuto said the reasons for the returns have varied and she doesn’t know how many are directly related to the pandemic.
What do shelters need now?
While animal shelters across the country usually always need something – be it adopters, foster families, or supplies – what many need right now are live foster caretakers. because of the “kitten season”.
Many animals give birth in the spring, but cats, unlike other animals, “can continue to breed, having litter after litter until the weather turns cold again,” according to the nonprofit Best. Friends Animal Society, the country’s largest homeless animal sanctuary. “In many areas, the kitten season can last from spring until early winter.”
Kittens should be fed every three hours until they are weaned at around 6 weeks.
Earlier this month, the Flagler Humane Society welcomed 22 kittens from a single household, Carotenuto said.
Halifax also needs employees.
“We are trying to be more flexible,” said KuKes. “It’s very competitive there.”