Pets need a home too

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As COVID-19 shuts down the country, many nonessential businesses continue to close. This has caused a growing concern that the closing of animal shelters will leave many animals homeless, which has led to a rise in nationwide pet adoptions. 

According to Bloomberg News, New York City is beginning to experience a shortage of pets at the shelters, as the number of people willing to adopt during the pandemic grows. 

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We also want to make sure that those who are qualified can adopt and not worry about the fees that come with adoption
— Jennifer Merenda, Chief Animal Control Officer

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), in cooperation with Petco Foundation and Blue Buffalo, responded with a $5 million “ASPCA COVID-19 Relief and Recovery Initiative,” donating across several states to help with distributing food, adoption and veterinary services. There is also an additional $2 million donation to animal shelters that have been hit hard during this crisis.

Bridgeport Animal Control Center said their shelters do very well normally but have come across problems as adoptions move online. Chief Animal Control Officer Jennifer Merenda said people usually come to see the animal first and then fill out an application if they’re interested, but now they have to fill out an online application and then meet the animal, which slows the process. However, animal shelters are still trying their best to adjust.

“We have asked people to submit a complete application ahead of time to get them down here as soon as possible to meet the cats and dogs to make sure they mesh, since we can’t have people visiting,” Merenda said.

Merenda mentioned that one of their past partners, the Cathy Kangas Foundation for Animals, has helped them out with paying all the adoption fees for the pets at the shelters starting April 1.

“We also want to make sure that those who are qualified can adopt and not worry about the fees that come with adoption. That’s another way to get the animals out that would be a big help during this time,” Merenda said.

After the Coronavirus epidemic, shelters face the possibility of owners deciding to return the pets they adopted.

“There is always a chance of pets being returned. That’s why we take time with our application process. They meet and greet children too,” Merenda said. “We really try to make sure that we are making the best matches we can, making sure that person sees that bond between the pet before making a decision. Returns are very limited. We just try to match the right pet to the right home and in the right environment.”

With the uncertainty of the pandemic looming before us, fostering is just one step the nation is taking to ensure we all, including our pets, make it out of this crisis together.

“How we respond to this crisis — whether it’s a large organization operating on a national level, a small shelter working hard to rehome their residents, or a family fostering a new dog or cat — reflects our compassion and appreciation of the invaluable role pets play in our lives, especially in times of great stress,” said Matt Bershadekar, president and CEO of ASPCA, on ASPCA’s website.

Thumbnail photo courtesy of @ASPCA on Twitter.


Amy Chen is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus and can be reached via email at amy.3.chen@uconn.edu.

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