We all adjusted seemingly overnight to working remotely in the early days of the pandemic. We Zoomed, we learned how to remain productive away from the office, and settled into our “new normal.” All those hours at home inspired many people to take the plunge and adopt the puppy they’ve always dreamt of. With all that increased time on their hands, and a need for something to help combat unprecedented stress levels, a cuddly dog seemed like the best idea, says Sasha Armstrong, a dog behaviorist and the founder of the Canine State of Mind.
“There was a dire need for comfort and emotional support, which a dog can essentially provide,” she continues. “During these uncertain times, people flocked to shelters and other facilities to find their ideal companion.”
However, many first-time pet parents weren’t quite prepared for the responsibility of raising an animal from infancy to adulthood. And even if it felt easy to stay home 24/7 when bars, restaurants and borders were closed, the world has changed, and some “pandemic puppies” fell lower on their owner’s priority list — some have explored options for rehoming their pets, which can unfortunately be an unpleasant experience for them — one that has left many animal lovers anxious.
“Now that the pandemic is winding down, these same puppies are being returned to the same shelters they were purchased from due to lack of knowledge of caring for them and decreased time available,” Armstrong says.
We know that every beloved pet deserves a chance at happiness. If you’re ready to adopt and you feel you have a full understanding of any work and travel commitments that will take you out of the home, there’s an opportunity now for first-time pet parents to welcome a “pandemic pup” into their home. Here’s a look at how to find the right match for your family.
Ask Friends and Family
Deciding to give up your dog is an emotionally difficult experience. While your friend or family member may have realized they no longer have the time their four-legged pup needs, they still care about their wellbeing and happiness. That’s why the first place many people look to rehome their pup is through their immediate circle. You may be likely to hear about animals available for adoption via social media posts from friends (or friends of friends) or work colleagues. Before you decide to adopt the pup, schedule a meeting with the owners and the puppy to get a read on their challenges, and get a feel for the pup’s personality. Also, be prepared to answer questions about your ability to care for the animal. “Puppy ownership requires an extra level of time, attention, and love, so you should expect your friend or family member will do their research on potential relatives or coworkers before making their decision,” Armstrong says.
There may also be a financial benefit to adopting a puppy from friends and family — the pet parents may be willing to offer you everything they have already purchased for the dog, including a bed, toys, even food. As you’re working out an arrangement to adopt, make sure to ask about some of the items that can be thrown in as part of the adoption.
Visit a Shelter or Foster-Based Rescue Facility
If you exhaust your personal network and you don’t find a pup up for adoption, your next stop is the animal shelter. Depending on where you live, county or state-run programs often practice euthanasia if an animal isn’t adopted for several weeks, so the sooner you can rescue a pandemic pup, the better. If you don’t find a match at the shelter, Armstrong recommends private animal rescue groups available for all breeds. This might be your best option if you have a preference for adopting a specific breed. “As opposed to a regular animal shelter, a private rescue may have more connections with foster homes and other resources, and will take the time to find a proper fit for a pup,” she explains.
Be Careful With Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace
While popular community-based digital storefronts might be effective for, say, giving your couch a second life, they aren’t always recommended for finding a new pet, since most pet owners will often try a shelter or foster program first when they’re looking to rehome a dog. Does this mean you should avoid shopping on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace completely? No — just make sure you proceed with caution if you’re working with a stranger. It can be tough to judge a person’s character or background based on a profile picture, says Amanda Mohler, the director of Adoptions at Wags and Walks in Los Angeles. It’s possible the dog is stolen, if it’s a pure breed and the person is trying to sell it.
If You’re Considering Adopting, Be Prepared
Whenever you’re ready to welcome a pet into your home and family, it’s truly fantastic news. However, it’s vital to do your research and be incredibly honest about your ability to care for an animal that will be part of your family for ten years or more. Ask yourself these questions before committing:
- Do I have the financial ability to care for a dog? Proper care includes regular visits to a veterinarian for wellness checks and immunizations, the cost of food and supplies, doggy daycare and more.
- Am I willing to change my lifestyle for my dog? While you may want to join your colleagues for last-minute drinks after work, you might have to decline if you don’t have a partner or dog walker to take your pup out for a spin around the block. The same goes for travel: can you hire a pet sitter if you can’t bring your dog along for the journey?
- Do you plan to purchase pet insurance? If you do decide to adopt a dog, it’s vital to have pet insurance to protect their longtime health and happiness. Just like you wouldn’t go without health, house or car insurance for yourself, your four-legged pal deserves the same protections. Vet care is expensive, especially if your pet develops a serious illness or has an accident, such as a broken limb or ingests something toxic. You don’t want to turn down medical care because of finances.
One Way to Help Shelter Pets
Healthy Paws Pet Insurance & Foundation is running a promotion to help more shelter and rescue pets. The foundation has helped hundreds of pet rescues and animal shelters by providing grants to help fund medicine, food, shelter, and operating costs – donating nearly $2 million to nonprofits over 13 years.
Until the end of 2022, the Healthy Paws Foundation is temporarily increasing the amount donated for its “Every Quote Gives Hope” program to $1 for each person who requests a free pet insurance quote on its website. It is estimated that the increased funding will add $180,000 to the Foundation’s budget for the remainder of the year, helping to save thousands more pets.
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