Making COVID-19 pets ‘furever’ pets

Hannah Araujo's dog, Ziah, pictured laying down on a laptop. Photo credit: Photograph by: Hannah Araujo

Animal adoption agencies say they are doing their best to ensure animals are going to forever homes despite adoption rates spiking during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pets have become a cure to pandemic boredom for some people. For example, the SPCA in B.C. has seen as many as two hundred applications per day. Meanwhile, in Ontario, the SPCA found homes for more than 1,600 animals from July to December of last year.

With the increase in adoptions agencies have had to adapt.

Kara Olsen, an employee at Durham Region Humane Society, described the process as “fairly robust.” The process begins once someone applies for a specific animal.

“We make sure on paper it sounds like a good fit and then we go and do an interview,” said Olsen.

Although many people may apply, it’s not guaranteed that they will get the animal they want.

“We never have just given an animal just because someone wants it, we have to make sure it’s the right fit for the right animal,” said Olsen.

The Durham Region Humane Society wants to make sure every family has a plan for the future when COVID-19 passes and understands the responsibility they’re taking on when adopting an animal.

The humane society asks questions such as whether pet owners have a next of kin that would look after their pet if they were no longer able to take care of it.

Hannah Araujo, 20, of Pickering adopted a dog, Ziah, from Niagara Dog Rescue and went through this strict process herself.

“They asked a lot of questions of our live style before and during COVID, and what we expected it to look like after, just to make sure there were consistencies in our lifestyles and day-to-day life,” she said.

She already had a dog and her family decided to rescue one during the pandemic. She said the adoption agency process was more extensive than getting a dog from a breeder.

She said Niagara Dog Rescue really focused on the importance of life after COVID-19. She was told they had already received returns from the first lockdown.

“They definitely made sure to emphasize the effect that day-to-day life and reality before COVID can have on a family that is looking for a dog,” said Arajuo.

Emma Bryne's new American bulldog.
Emma Bryne's new American bulldog. Photo credit: Photograph by: Emma Bryne

Emma Bryne, 20, of Ajax adopted an American bulldog from the adoption agency Mattie’s Home after her previous dog passed away.

Bryne said the adoption agency asked her to describe her daily life before COVID-19 and what they would do if COVID-19 didn’t exist. They also stressed the importance of the way Bryne’s family treated animals in the past.

“We had to explain how we treated our dog before that died before COVID,” she said. “They already wanted to talk about all the animals we had before.”

Bryne also emails the owner of Mattie’s Home every month to give updates on their dog and to keep in touch.

Rehoming groups have also become popular during COVID-19.

Nicola Taylor, 21, of Port Union adopted a dog from a Facebook rehoming group. She lives in London, Ont., for school and wanted a companion to take with her when the school year started.

Taylor said this was the perfect time for her to get a puppy and it has been very easy to train her since COVID-19 provides a lot of spare time.

However, she also leaves her dog alone as much as possible to already get that distance in place for when COVID-19 ends.

She described the rehoming group as very family-like.

“They were much more attentive to getting to know their potential owners in the sense with me,” she said. “They FaceTimed me on a weekly basis and they actually sent photos of her throughout the progress of her getting older.”

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