Fact-or-Fiction? Pandemic Pet Returns

by GABRIELA SELVA '24

I think we can all agree that at some point over the pandemic, many of us found ourselves bored and unsure of what to do with the amount of spare time we had at home. Whether it was binging movies and shows, taking on a new hobby, or spending more time outdoors, there was an abundance of activities to do. For many, an easy solution was to adopt a puppy to fill up the extra time that they would have to spend in their homes.


At first it may seem that this was a good remedy to cure loneliness and boredom; however many found themselves unsure of what to do once work or school began to pick back up again. Should I leave my puppy at home all day? Should I invest in a dog-sitter? Or how about I just return my puppy back to the shelter?


This may seem like a common occurrence to many new-pet owners over the course of the pandemic, especially when we see headlines constantly declaring the amount of puppies returned to shelters now that things are becoming more “normal” again. However, these headlines are very misleading, and we must reconsider the correctness of these claims before falling to conclusions.


According to most shelters and animal welfare experts, dogs adopted during the pandemic are actually thriving in their new homes and are not being returned to the shelters at alarming rates.


According to Times Union, “one in five U.S. households acquired a cat or dog since the start of the pandemic in 2020,” and it turns out, “the vast majority - 90 percent for dogs and 85 percent for cats - are not considering surrendering their pets as owners largely return to work outside the home.” As a matter of fact, the Animal Humane Society actually points out how “the total number of animals surrendered to AHS in 2021 is less than what we’ve seen in previous years.”


So, how is it that more dogs are remaining in their homes, even when a majority of the population will be returning back to workplaces and schools? Shelters and rescue organizations are adamant on ensuring that their animals are being matched to adopters with lifestyles that will fit for their pet, even when owners return to their post-pandemic schedule, according to the New York Times. This means that dogs may have to adapt to a new schedule with seeing their owners less; however it is nothing compared to returning back to the lifestyle of an animal shelter.


So it turns out all the rumors we have been hearing about shelters being completely full due to the re-opening of the country these past couple of months, have in-fact been false! We can probably assume that most news headlines asserting these sensational claims are most engrossed in gaining public interest, at the expense of its accuracy.


Despite knowing this information, it does not mean that it is any less worth looking into adopting over the next few months! Animal shelters are always hopeful that their animals will find forever homes. That is to say, many SUA girls adopted some kind of pet over the course of the pandemic, and they are remaining happy and healthy in their new forever homes!


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