SHELTER IN PLACE A GIANT STEP TOWARDS SHELTERS ERASED
Updated: Jul 7
In a matter of weeks, Americans have turned animal shelters- inundated and overcrowded across the country- into empty nests. According NBC News “[We have] contacted shelters and animal advocacy groups [across the US] and every single organization said it was overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support that got animals out of shelters and into loving foster and adoptive homes.”
The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) President and CEO Matt Bershadker said that he has seen a “70% increase in animals entering foster care in their New York City and Los Angeles programs compared to this time last year.”
We should be incredibly proud of ourselves! Amidst an unprecedented pandemic, Americans have “answered the call” with resounding humanity; helping those in need when we need to help ourselves. To read the countless articles discussing the increase in foster and adoption rates is a dream come true for a rescuer like myself, especially during a time when I, like all of us, have been clamoring for good news.
Looking at the matter more closely, there’s even more good news to glean! In the face of a deadly and divisive pandemic, people did not hesitate to invite a new pet into their family. In fact, we jumped at the opportunity to foster; yes, to help pets in need, but also because we wanted a companion to bond and make memories with. I think we’ve made a giant step here in terms of how we view our pets.
Faced with the need for social distancing, our natural inclination was to reach out to the pets we evolved to be our friends. Not to minimize the goodness in people’s heart hoping to help, but those who had never even thought to get a family dog reached out to me asking where they could find a dog to foster! You see, our relationship with dogs and cats is one of symbiotic benevolence; we get back everything we give to them and more – and both giving and receiving are equally rewarding.
The great strides we have taken over these last few months are wonderful, however we are not yet out of the woods. And, those of us in the rescue community have to be ready for what’s to come. As shelter-in-place orders become less restrictive, people will return to work and many of those foster dogs will return to shelters. There will be an immediate need for rescue groups to step in again and alleviate the pressure placed on city and county shelters.
But optimism shines bright and I believe in my heart that from this pandemic a new breed of pet activists will emerge: that this time has enlightened many to the wondrous joy and love pets provide; that the shrouds of ignorance and/or indifference regarding what is happening to 1.5 million pets put shelters across the country per year has been lifted; that together we are now closer to taking full responsibility for pets’ welfare.
Our new normal will bring about many changes, and I truly feel my dream that every pet should experience the love of a forever home is one step closer to becoming reality.