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A dog at Denver Animal Shelter in 2016. Photo: Kathryn Scott/The Denver Post via Getty Images

The surge in dog adoptions during the pandemic is making it more difficult for pet owners in Denver — and throughout the U.S. — to secure checkups with veterinarians.

Why it matters: Colorado is a dog state, and a place pets reign supreme. But our furry friends may no longer be able to get the health care they need as quickly as they used to.

What's happening: The American Veterinary Medical Association says a number of factors are at play:

  • People are continuing to buy pets for companionship, meaning more new clients are signing up to have their pets seen for basic shots and initial checkups.
  • Many pet owners are now booking the routine appointments they put off during the pandemic.
  • An uptick in people working from home has allowed more pet owners to notice subtle health warnings in their animals.

What they're saying: "We can't keep up," Stephanie Granato, a vet technician at Urban Vet Care in Denver, tells Axios. "From all the people moving to Denver anyway, and then on top of the pandemic, demand has gone through the roof."

  • The vet clinic tried offering telemedicine to help meet more needs but found it was too demanding on doctors to juggle virtual and in-person visits. The clinic has since stopped telemedicine and paused the intake of all new clients.

Meanwhile, the boom in animal adoptions is making major waves elsewhere in the pet industry.

  • Local dog groomers tell Axios their next availability is at least two months out, and pet supply store owners say business has never been better, reflecting a national trend.

Of note: CBD sales for dogs with separation anxiety are also going up as people ease back into everyday life, said Jennifer Go, sales specialist at Quality Paws Natural Pet.

  • Numerous animal shelters in the Denver metro area tell Axios they have been bracing for a wave of adoption returns that has yet to come to fruition.
  • In fact, only 35 pets have been brought back to Denver Animal Shelter this year — fewer than were returned during the same date range last year (40) and in 2019 (52), a spokeswoman said.

Yes, but: That's not the case at all shelters. Over roughly the last two weeks, the MaxFund Animal Adoption Center has had nearly 20 dogs returned, CBS Denver reported.

The big picture: Industry experts say soaring demand is unlikely to be a blip tied to the pandemic, largely because of the emotional value animals offer and the fact that more people are working from home.

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Go deeper

17 mins ago - Health

The psychology behind COVID-19 lotteries

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

NBA season tickets. Scholarships. A chance at $5 million. The list of lotteries and raffles states are launching to drive up COVID-19 vaccination rates is growing, and some local officials are already reporting "encouraging" results.

Driving the news: The reason why, some psychologists and public health experts say, is that the allure of lotteries for many people is simply that the prospect of winning a great prize seems better than passing up the chance, regardless of the odds.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

NTSB probes deadly Alabama crash as storms lash Southeast and Midwest

Flash-flooding in Bloomington, Indiana, on Saturday. Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Sunday that it's sent a team to Alabama to help investigate a fiery multi-vehicle crash that killed 10 people, including nine children.

The big picture: Saturday's crash, south of Montgomery, occurred amid a tropical depression that left 13 people dead in Alabama. It triggered flash floods and tornadoes that razed "dozens of homes" in the Southeast over the weekend, per AP. Parts of the Midwest were also badly hit, including Indiana and Chicago, where a tornado struck late Sunday.

Laurel Hubbard to become 1st openly trans athlete to compete at Olympics

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, when she became the first openly transgender athlete to represent NZ. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The New Zealand Olympic Committee announced Monday that Laurel Hubbard has been selected for the women's weightlifting team for the Tokyo Games — making her the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the event.

The big picture: Hubbard, 43, is part of a five-member Kiwi weightlifting team and will compete in the women's super heavyweight category. Meanwhile, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe will become the first openly trans athlete to travel to the Olympics with Team USA, when she arrives in Tokyo as a reserve rider.