When the pandemic hit, adopting and fostering animals became more popular. With more spare time and being home more often, many decided it was time to bring an animal into their life.
“I think that people’s lives have slowed down a bit so they have more time, perhaps they have more time to consider a dog that needs a bit more training and the investment of time they might not have had,” said Karen Annis, board member at the Meriden Humane Society. “I think that we’ve all recognized the need to share a life with somebody.”
With more people interested in adopting and fostering, shelters are making sure that they find the right home for animals.
At The Animal Haven, a no-kill private shelter in North Haven, the adoption process has finally slowed and they are not taking on any new foster homes.
“The adoption process has slowed … potential adopters need to come in now by appointment,” said Mark Bailey, a member of the board of directors and volunteer coordinator at The Animal Haven. “... We currently are not doing home checks and home visits, meaning we need other ways of being assured a particular home is set up as the right fit.”
At the Meriden Humane Society adoptions continue to be steady.
“We definitely have a lot more applications to process because so many more people are interested,” said Julie Rogers, staff and volunteer supervisor at the Meriden Humane Society. “We were still processing them the same way, even though there were so many more of them. We’re not rushing them through, we’re still making sure the animals are going to good homes.”
COVID-19 has meant other changes for shelters.
“I think that shelters, for sure, ourselves included, are definitely struggling with the fact that a lot of our fundraising events and adoption events have been cancelled and we’re not able to be open to the public in the same kind of walk-in and fall in love with the animal and then apply a type of system,” Annis said.
With the increase in adoption inquiries, the process has had to slow down at many shelters.
“We also have more applications to adopt than usual, meaning application review takes longer,” Bailey said. “... On the surface this may seem like a good thing, but in almost every case the adoption applicant has a specific cat or dog in mind, and any particular animal, therefore, can have a few or many applications that need to be carefully weighed — this also slows down adoption. Whereas we can suggest other animals to qualified applicants, often they have their hearts set on a particular dog or cat.”
When deciding if they are ready to adopt or foster an animal, shelters are encouraging people to realize it is is a long term commitment.
“We try to make sure people are thinking long term and not just during the pandemic,” Rogers said. “Once the pandemic is over, things sort of go back to normal, the animal is still there and the animal still needs to be cared for and still needs people around.”
“Make sure that you have all of the accommodations for that pet as well,” said Heather Bearz, owner of Cheshire Cat & Dog, Too. “A crate, certain items. It makes the transition from a dog going from a shelter that is very very noisy and then going into a home, where they are going to have direct one on one contact with the owner.”
When the animal is transitioning to the new home, new owners need to have patience.
“Newly adopted animals are making a huge adjustment from shelter life — and even from a foster home — and need time to decompress and feel safe,” Bailey said. “They won’t understand the patterns and routines that seem second nature to their new family, but they often will try incredibly hard to please.”
Adopting or fostering an animal is like a relationship, according to Bearz.
“It is almost like dating somebody,” Bearz said. “You need to get to know them, whether they are going to treat you well and once that happens, once you have that great relationship with each other, then it’s how it’s supposed to be.”