Animal shelters are facing a new set of challenges during the coronavirus pandemic as shelter-in-place and mandatory stay-at-home orders are impacting homeless pets and animal adoption services.
A new national effort -- #StayHomeAndFoster -- is working to help lessen the immediate crisis faced by homeless pets. The pet fostering initiative was created by GreaterGood.org in partnership with NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations’ Clear The Shelters™ campaign and is sponsored by the US Animal Health Business of Boehringer Ingelheim.
"It’s a wonderful thing to do for people who are working from home who normally aren’t capable of having pets," said Deb Yankow of the Bergen County Animal Shelter in New Jersey.
In the past week, the shelter has placed 35 shelter animals in foster and rescue homes.
Yankow called the placements one of the biggest shelter's achievements as they are seeking to keep the shelter census numbers low because the future is uncertain. The shelter anticipates some households may struggle with keeping their pets as future economic indicators are still unknown.
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"The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented animal sheltering crisis in the United States and homeless pets with nowhere to go are at risk of being euthanized," said Liz Baker, CEO of GreaterGood.org.
"Fostering a pet is the solution, and StayHomeAndFoster.org makes it easy by connecting potential pet foster parents with animal shelters in their local communities."
Potential animal foster parents may visit StayHomeAndFoster.org to obtain more information and get connected to a local shelter. Many of the animal shelters offer foster pet delivery or low contact pet pick up. Fosters are needed for dogs and cats nationwide for two to four weeks.
Pop singer Lance Bass tweeted about pet fostering, "It’s the best anxiety medication you can have AND it distracts energetic kids!"
Earlier this month, Kern County Animal Services in California held a drive-thru foster event that resulted in 88 pets being connected to temporary foster homes. The shelter kept their local community abreast of their need for more foster parents on Facebook.
"Fostering a pet will not only save a life but it will also decrease the stress of both the pet and the person or family staying at home during this challenging time," said Randolph Legg, Head of Boehringer Ingelheim’s U.S. Animal Health Commercial Business.
Springtime is kitten and puppy season compounding the need for pet shelters to find temporary and forever homes. Promoting pet fostering helps provide a solution to the countless homeless pets at risk of being euthanized due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers say.
Clear the Shelters or Desocupar Los Albergues in Spanish, is an annual, nationwide pet adoption campaign that is spearheaded by NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, a division of NBCUniversal. Since its inception in 2015, Clear the Shelters has helped facilitate more than 400,000 pet adoptions. This year, Clear the Shelters Day takes place on Saturday, Aug. 29. More than 1,000 shelters across the United States are expected to participate.