In the age of COVID-19, we’re stressed, we’re under-socialized, we miss our jobs and our friends, and there’s no end in sight.
But your quarantine might be the perfect time to bring a different kind of friend into your life. According to the CDC, there’s no evidence suggesting dogs, cats, guinea pigs, or other companion animals spread coronavirus. And they’re just as psyched as ever to hang out with you.
“Now is a wonderful time to adopt a pet,” Animal Humane Society of Minnesota PR Manager Mary Tan says. She literally means “now.” The society’s shelter locations are gradually closing to the public until May 2. Animals are being transferred to the Golden Valley site over the weekend, which will close on Sunday. Then it will be up to their 300 volunteers and 400 employees to foster the ones that don’t yet have homes of their own.
There’s still time to adopt. Tan says they rehomed tons of animals last Saturday, and folks are still dropping by at a steady rate. Fostering has gone up across the board, too – which has been a relief to Phil Manz, the executive director of Feline Rescue.
“We’ve been gratified by the response we’ve had from folks who have come forward to volunteer,” he says – especially with kitten season on the way. “If and when we need to shut down our shelter operations, we know all our cats will be cared for.”
Puppies especially pose a unique opportunity. If you're stuck home, you can spend more time house training them and keeping them out of trouble.
Of course, a puppy isn’t right for everybody. The quarantine also means you’re not going to get the same kind of help or support you normally would as a first-time pet owner. Many adoption and fostering centers are switching over to virtual check-ins rather than break quarantine, and it’s harder to seek help training and socializing a puppy when you should be avoiding PetCo.
“Ideally, if you have animal experience, that’s better,” Shannon McKenzie, Executive Director of Underdog Rescue, says. “And you have to have a plan in place. What if you are exposed [to the virus]?”
She adds that now more than ever, they need people to step up.
“It’s going to get interesting, and not in a good way,” McKenzie says.
Then, of course, there’s another pervasive hardship in the age of coronavirus: money.
“There’s been a slight increase of request of need from owners who are concerned about the economic impact,” Kerry D’Amato, Executive Director of Pet Haven, says. As more and more owners find themselves laid off or too sick to work, more and more may be forced to surrender their pets for lack of ability to pay for their care. Pet Haven, which relies heavily on donations, is concerned on the impact on its funds, too.
But they’re still adopting and fostering animals.
“The animals still need us,” D’Amato explains.
Perhaps now more than ever, we need them too.
“I really think dogs and cats will get us through this,” McKenzie says.
Here are some of the places you can hit up if you want to adopt or foster an animal:
Animal Humane Society – Golden Valley
You can still adopt animals at the Golden Valley location, 845 Meadow Lane, N, until 6 p.m. on Sunday. After that, the shelter will be closed to the public until May 2. Learn more here.
Feline Rescue – St. Paul
Feline Rescue is still looking for volunteers to foster, especially for adult cats, and the need will only go up as we approach kitten season. Learn more about the foster program here.
Underdog Rescue – St. Louis Park
Underdog Rescue is accepting both adoption and foster applicants. If you can’t care for your animal due to financial hardship, they also accept pet surrenders. Learn more about all of the above here.
Pet Haven – Minneapolis
Dogs? Cats? Foster? Adopt? Surrender? Pet Haven has information on all of the above here.
Minneapolis Animal Care and Control is also waiving all adoption fees starting Friday, March 20. Find out more here.
If you love animals but can’t foster or adopt one right now, you could always donate.