People Are Adopting “Pandemic Pets” During Coronavirus and It’s Restoring Our Faith in Humanity

“Animals provide invaluable comfort and companionship, especially during times of crisis,” says Matt Bershadker, President and CEO of the ASPCA, who adds that shelters are “desperate.”

That’s just what Elizabeth Kidd, a millennial in Boise, Idaho, found. She and her boyfriend adopted Watson, an eight-year-old mutt, from her local shelter on Thursday, March 19.

“I am super, super anxious,” Kidd tells Glamour. “A lot of my corona anxiety is because my entire family is in a really small town about three hours from Boise, and I won’t be able to see them until this is over. It is silly, but now I have a little family even though I can’t get to mine.”

Kidd says since getting Watson, she’s been less anxious. “He doesn’t particularly like us to be on our phones (because we can’t be petting him then!), so I read a lot less Twitter last night which was probably a good thing,” She says. “Plus he’s very, very cute.”

Courtney Hoskins, a single mom in Boulder, Colorado, thought she and her six-year-old could never love another dog the way they’d loved their puppy who died last summer, after suffering from kidney failure. But then her job transitioned to remote, at-home work, and she realized she was going to have to break the news to her son that his trampoline birthday party would likely have to be canceled. And so she reached out to her local shelter, RezDawg Rescue and brought home Mabel, a 12-week-old mix.

“You can’t check the news when you are playing tug-o-war with a little puppy!” Hoskins says. “She needs walks throughout the day and she helps us stick with a schedule. At night, we all watch TV together and cuddling with her as she sleeps in my arms is so soothing.”

Hoskins’ son, with 12-week-old Mabel 

Courtesy of Courtney Hoskins

Anyone who is thinking about adopting or fostering a pet from a local shelter “should reach out to that shelter immediately,” Bershadker says. In the meantime, let’s go through some FAQs—which of course stands for Furry Adorable Questions. (Yes, thanks for asking, quarantine is getting to me.)

Can pets get coronavirus?

According to the CDC, “At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19.” Ganzert jokes, “Only their unconditional love is contagious.”

What if I’m not ready to commit to a new pet?

You don’t need to. Freeing space, and in some cases evacuating every animal, is the top priority for shelters. Fostering—caring for an animal temporarily, rather than adopting—could save its life, says Brittany Feldman, the executive director of Shelter Chic, a foster-based rescue group in Brooklyn, New York. “There are shelters that have sometimes 200-plus dogs and 100 cats, and these animals need to be taken care of multiple times a day,” she says, adding that, generally, city shelters have mandates to euthanize animals if they become overrun. With employees and volunteers unable to come into work during the pandemic and more and more people surrendering their pets or putting off adoption to a later date, “it’s a real crisis.” Fostering right now can both save an animal and help keep workers and volunteers safe. “The fewer animals that are sitting in the shelter, the fewer staff need to be taking care of them,” Feldman says.

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