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Our organization has had a physical shelter since 1947, and in all those years, from March through September, there has always been an onslaught of incoming animals.

Now, for the first time in our long history of housing homeless animals, COVID-19 has left us with many empty cages in the heat of the summer. Intake is down and any adoptable animal that comes in the door flies out as soon as it is available. With the onset of the statewide shutdown, people have been anxious to bring a new pet into their home; what better time than when you're stuck with nothing to do and no place to go but the grocery store? I'm not sure of all the reasons why intake numbers have been so low, but I have to assume that it is also fueled by people being home and having more time to take care of their animals.

Now that we are progressing in the stages of reopening businesses and activities, we can only hope that folks stay as committed to their pets as they have been since the onset of the pandemic. The number of incoming cats and kittens is already surging and I worry that the dogs are not far behind

For those of you returning to full-time work and a more normal social schedule, it's important that you recognize the impact this will likely have on your pets. Back in April I commented in this column on all the pet owners in my neighborhood suddenly coming out of the woodwork to walk their dogs; it's been wonderful to witness and now I hope, for the sake of the dogs, that the habit doesn't fall to the wayside.

If your dogs are crated or confined in some way when you have to be out of the house, it will be hard on them to go back to that if they've enjoyed more freedom while you've been home. If you can't avoid this, you can still help alleviate their boredom by offering them safe enrichment toys in their crates and exercising them before and after their confinement period. If you need direction in providing enrichment for your dog, there's a wealth of information and products on the internet.

There are also a lot of new pet owners who adopted or otherwise acquired a pet during the shutdown that may not have fully considered the long-term commitment required. I can only hope that the attachment they've formed with the animal will be a strong bond that compels them to do right by their pet. Worst case scenario, if rehoming is absolutely necessary, hopefully they do it sooner rather than later. Allowing a pet to languish without adequate attention can cause him or her undo stress and result in behavioral issues.

A lot of people have been reminded or learned anew the value of the companionship of a pet during this terrible disruption to our lives; at least something positive has come of it.

Source: Hoping pet owners stay committed to their animals

Posted in 2020, SJRAS Articles