Apr 25, 2020 - Economy & Business

Pet adoption and fostering soars during coronavirus pandemic

Two dogs going for a walk outside the Animal Rescue of New Orleans.

Two dogs going for a walk outside the Animal Rescue of New Orleans on March 24. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Animal shelters and rescue organizations across the United States say their kennels are empty, as Americans take advantage of days spent at home during the coronavirus outbreak by adopting pets.

Why it matters: With fewer animals in their kennels, shelters don't have to resort to euthanasia to make room for new litters or strays.

The big picture: Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, told NBC News that the organization has seen a 70% jump in animals entering foster homes in its New York City and Los Angeles programs compared to last year.

  • Vice President at the Pasadena Humane Society Jack Hagerman told the Los Angeles Times that his shelter has seen a “massive uptick” in interest for pet adoption, adding that 1,451 people asked to foster animals after the organization sent its first plea for volunteers.
  • Animal Care Centers of New York City told the New York Times that 2,000 people applied for the 200 empty slots in its foster program.
  • In Florida, Friends of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control reported empty kennels for the first time in the shelter's history, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Yes, but: Many shelters are also bracing for increases in owner surrenders or stray intakes as the virus infects and kills more people and harms the economy.

  • "We don’t know what will happen as the numbers of sick and deceased increases, nor do we know what impact the financial stresses might have," Jim Tedford, president and CEO of the Association for Animal Welfare Advancement, told USA Today. "But for now we’ve seen communities step up and help reduce shelter populations rather than the other way around."

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