U.S. pet adoption is still buzzing as stressed families seek warm and fuzzy relief despite the easing of lockdowns.
Animal shelters adoption rates rose up to 40% year over year in 2020 as people coped with isolation at the height of the pandemic.
“There has been such an amount of care and adoption in the community since the pandemic,” said Leslie Granger, president and chief executive officer of Bideawee, a nonprofit New York group that has been finding loving homes for rescued animals since 1903.
“In the first week of last March alone, we received more than 700 care requests from families in the New York area,” said Granger. “We’ve had incredible demand for people who want to promote and adopt over the past year, and we’re not seeing any slowdown. People are still coming in. “
There are approximately 40 pets available for adoption in Bideawee’s 10,000-square-foot Manhattan building.
Eight-week-old puppies frolic and a kitten bottle feeds at the shelter, whose name in Scottish means “stay a while”.
Bideawee’s no-kill policy is different from animal shelters, which euthanize animals if they are not adopted after a certain period of time.
Even when people open their homes to pets, some COVID-stressed pet owners have thrown unwanted animals on the streets. Female cats can have five litters per year, which leads to a boom in the stray cat population.
Bideawee teaches cat lovers how to catch and neuter wild cats. “This is the only humane way to reduce the community cat population,” said Elyise Hallenbeck, director of wildlife strategy for the Bideawee Feral Cat Initiative.
Enrollment increased after the courses went online.
“We typically have 30 participants in our courses before the pandemic,” she said. “Today we reach more than 300 from all over the world including places like Saudi Arabia, Alaska, Brazil, Mexico, Australia.”
When Hallenbeck bottle-fed Bodie, a 4 week old kitten, she said his wild mother died on the street shortly after giving birth.
“Whenever you’re having a bad moment at work, you can always take a little break and snog a few puppies or cuddle kittens,” Granger said.