Unsurprisingly, pet adoptions have grown exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many shelters are reporting an uptick in applications for all of their adoptable pets. In fact, within five days of the Wisconsin Humane Society going virtual with their pet adoptions, 159 animals were adopted and another 160 found foster homes.
In many ways, now could be the perfect time to adopt a pet. Many people find themselves working from home with more free time than ever before. Adopting a furry friend would provide not only something to do each day, but also provide companionship at a time when many people feel socially isolated. You’ll also find that you have more time available to dedicate to helping them adjust to their new home than you normally would.
However, before making a final decision to adopt a pet, take some time to really think about your decision. Adopting a pet is a big commitment and you’ll want to be sure you’re fully able to take care of the pet, even after quarantine is over and life returns back to normal. To decide if you’re really ready to adopt a pet right now, ask yourself some questions and be truthful with yourself. Can you afford the initial and long term costs of owning a pet? When you return to a more normal schedule, will you be able to continue taking care of them? Do you have a backup plan if you need to travel in the future or an emergency pops up?
Once you’ve asked yourself these questions and have decided that now is indeed the right time to adopt a pet, there are a few challenges that you may encounter when adopting during this time. Preparing early will ensure a smooth and memorable adoption process.
Before Adopting a Pet
When choosing what kind of pet you’re looking for, it’s important to find one that best matches your lifestyle. If you live in an apartment, you may want to consider a cat or smaller breed dog that does not need as much space. Similarly, if you prefer to sit on the couch and binge movies and TV shows during the pandemic, then you should choose a pet that has lower energy and will not require long walks. If you love going on long hikes or runs, you’ll want to find a dog breed that can handle more intense activity.
You’ll want to pay attention to these characteristics and how they relate to your lifestyle and living situation:
- Grooming requirements
- Common health issues
- Energy level
- Temperament (i.e. good with kids, protective, good family pet, etc.)
- Exercise requirements
Choosing a pet that fits well with your current situation and habits will increase the likelihood that the adoption will be successful and that you will have a happy friend for years to come.
The Adoption Process
Adopting a pet during quarantine also looks different than it did several months ago. Many shelters and rescue organizations no longer keep their adoptable pets together on location. Rather, most animals are staying with foster families during the pandemic. As a result, more thought and planning are required for the adoption process. You may even be able to do some digital applications or virtual appointments to get to know a pet you are considering adopting.
Most organizations will ask you to fill out an adoption application first before meeting the dog. This application helps the staff identify if your living situation might be a good fit for the pet. For example, some animals do not do well with other pets or young children in the house.
Furthermore, the shelter staff will likely ask you about your budget for your pet. It can cost up to about $500 to adopt a dog or cat by the time you pay the adoption fee, buy essential supplies and pay for initial vet visits. You can also expect to pay $500 or more per year to care for your new furry friend. Remember, you’ll need to have money to cover vet expenses, food, medications, leashes, crates, toys, and more.
Large breed dogs or pets with special needs may require even more of an investment on your part. For example, it can cost upwards of $150 more a month to feed a Great Dane than it will to feed a Chihuahua, and some animals may need specific medications or expensive foods. The rescue organization will want to make sure that you have anticipated and planned for these expenses.
Typically, the application will also help the team assess your experience with animals and your willingness to overcome the challenges that may be associated with rescuing one. Adoptable pets are not always housebroken and may not have received even basic training.
When you’re ready to meet your potential new pet, you’ll most likely need to call ahead to schedule an appointment. Most shelters are trying to limit the number of people who will be there at the same time in order to maintain social distancing.
Taking Care of a Pet During Quarantine
Taking care of your pet during quarantine will be a little different than it will be post-pandemic.
Dogs need a lot of exercise, and those needs aren’t going to change just because you are in quarantine. It will be important to make sure you are helping your dog get enough exercise each day. Fortunately, many dog parks have started to open back up. However, you’ll still want to be sure to take precautions when you are at the dog park.
Be sure to keep your distance from others at the park. Remember, a distance of at least six feet is recommended to reduce the risk of transmitting the virus. Be sure to wear your mask as well if there are others present at the dog park.
After leaving the dog park, it would also be a good idea to wipe your dog down before getting back into the car if he or she has come into contact with others at the park. You can find pet-friendly wipes that will help you clean your dog without endangering their health.
Another important thing to think about when preparing to take care of a pet during quarantine is to make sure you have sufficient supplies.
Before you bring your new pet home, you will need some key items to help them adjust to your home. First, you’ll need a pet bed and a crate. Your new animal needs to have a safe space that is just for them when they need to relax, especially when acclimating to the new environment. Crates are also helpful when housetraining a dog.
In addition, you will want to buy food and water bowls, a collar, a leash, a bed and some other essentials. We recommend asking your veterinarian for a diet recommendation specific to your pet and also a transition plan from the diet he/she is accustomed to eating at the shelter. Your veterinarian has extensive nutritional training and expertise and will recommend a high-quality diet that is age and breed appropriate.
Socializing pets, especially dogs, is important to ensure they live a healthy, happy life. In quarantine, however, you’ll need to follow some different procedures than you typically would.
Playdates with other dogs is a great way to practice socialization. Keep an eye on the dogs as they play to make sure they stay friendly, but keep yourself socially distanced from the other owners. This will lessen the chances of the virus being transmitted. It will also be a good idea to give your dog a bath when you get home as an extra precaution.
Finally, when taking care of a pet during quarantine, you will want to have some extra money saved up. An emergency fund is particularly critical in these uncertain times. In the case of an emergency, unexpected expenses can end up costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
When calculating your monthly expenditures, you should also include some money for your pet. This money goes not only for food but also for nail trimming, bathing, veterinary care, monthly medications and other expenses; pet owners can expect to spend up to $125 per month for each pet, depending on the breed.