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Adoptions During Coronavirus

May 11, 2020

The phones started ringing, and emails came pouring in, at shelters for abandoned dogs and cats around the region in mid-March. The inquires have been coming ever since, as families and single people stuck at home decide the time is right to welcome a furry friend into their lives.

It’s one of the more unexpected turn of events in the coronavirus era, animal shelters have been placing dogs and cats in new homes at an unprecedented rate.

“There’s been a major increase in interest,” said Samara Enders, a shelter spokeswoman. “It started right when all the social distancing started to happen, when people were at home, looking for something to do. Having a dog gives them something to do, and it helps out a shelter dog in need.”

Like many shelters, Adopt-A-Dog allows people to take in a dog for a trial period, in a “foster-care” arrangement for a week or two to make sure it’s a good fit for all involved, before moving to a permanent adoption. The shelter, founded in Greenwich in 1981, has also been getting additional support on social media and through financial contributions during the pandemic, Enders said.
There appear to be winners on both ends of the deal.

“The people seem to be happy, and the dogs are happy, too,” Enders said. “Quality time with dogs is good for mental health.”

Jessica Del Guercio, a dog-trainer and consultant who works with Red Leash Rescue in Stamford, said she’s been especially busy during the pandemic. She also runs PAWS of Greenwich, which advocates for animals and assists in adoptions. Interest in adoptions has been soaring in every section of the region, she said: “Shelters have been cleared in a lot of different states. Adoptions are up across the board.”

Del Guercio, who also works with new pet owners to facilitate the new addition to the family, says dogs have plenty to offer during the shelter-in-place setting.

“It’s such an amazing bonding experience,” she said. “Dogs offer comfort, they also offer responsibility, for families especially with children right now. They’re all therapy dogs. They give a sense of structure when everything is chaotic. It’s a learning experience — I give the kids a task to do, training commands. Getting kids involved in that, it’s educational, and they feel like they have some control in a world that’s out of control. It builds self-confidence and engagement.”

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