NEW YORK (Reuters) – Pet adoptions in the United States continue to be fun as stressed families seek warm, fuzzy comfort, even as lockdowns ease.
Adoption rates at animal shelters jumped as much as 40% in 2020 compared to the previous year as people dealt with isolation at the height of the pandemic.
“There has been an outpouring of community adoption and fostering since the pandemic,” said Leslie Granger, president and CEO of The Bedwee Group, a New York nonprofit group that has been searching for loving homes for rescued animals since 1903.
“In the first week alone this past March, we saw over 700 requests for care coming in from families across the New York area,” Granger said.
“We’ve had an incredible demand for people who want to adopt and foster over the past year and we don’t see it slowing down. People keep coming.”
In the 10,000-square-foot Bidwie building in Manhattan, there are about 40 pets up for adoption. A playful eight-week-old puppy and kitten bottle feeding inside the shelter, whose name means “stay a while” in Scots.
Bideawee’s no-kill policy distinguishes shelters that put animals to sleep if they are not adopted after a certain period.
Even as people open their homes to pets, some pet owners suffering from the coronavirus have dumped unwanted animals on the streets. Female cats can give birth to up to five litters per year, resulting in a feral cat population boom.
Pedewee teaches cat lovers how to trap and neuter feral cats, “which is the only humane way to reduce the population of community cats,” said Elise Hallenbeck, Feral Cat Initiative Strategy Director at Pedewee.
Enrollment has increased as courses have moved online.
“Normally pre-pandemic, we would have 30 people on our courses,” she said. “At present, we get over 300 people from all over the world, including places like Saudi Arabia, Alaska, Brazil, Mexico, and Australia.”
Bodi, a four-week-old kitten who was bottle-fed by Hallenbeck, said his feral mother died shortly after she was born on the streets.
“If you’re having a rough moment at work, you can always take some time outside and get some puppy hugs or little cuddles,” Granger said.
(Reporting by Russell Chen) Editing by Richard Chang
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