Should you adopt a pet during the COVID-19 pandemic?

WATCH: People encouraged to consider long-term impacts of adopting pets during pandemic

With all the time people are spending at home these days because of the coronavirus, many might be looking to foster or adopt an animal — but should they?

It depends, according to animal rescue groups in Calgary.

Alberta Animal Rescue Crew Society said they’re seeing seeing a huge increase in interest from the public.

“We have seen a huge uptick in fosters, volunteers and animal applications… We see twice as much applications as we usually do,” AARCS behaviour coordinator Shauna Alcock said.

Alcock said people are looking for opportunities to adopt and while it can be a good idea to adopt a puppy during this time, people should consider the long term impacts.

“From what I’ve seen, this is a really good time for people to transition dogs to their homes. Usually when people adopt, they don’t have two months to work on training. They don’t have two months to work on bonding,” she said.

But she said she’s worried about what will happen when the social distancing orders are lifted.

“What happens if they don’t have time to walk their dogs, and (their dogs have) separation anxiety? Like when people are home all the time, and then they’re not,” she said.

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It’s a messaging echoed by Calgary Humane Society behaviour outreach coordinator Cheryl Grant.

While the decision may be beneficial to both human and dogs in the short term, those considering adopting a dog need to look at their finances, and consider expensive vet bills and what life is like post-pandemic.

“Owning an animal isn’t cheap… We just want to make sure that they are considering what their lifestyle is like after quarantine is over, so regular life style — ‘how are you going to care for that animal?'”

The Calgary Humane Society (CHS) said they have adopted out 124 animals during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is down for the shelter.

They’re only doing emergency intakes at the moment, limiting the number of staff and animals on site.

Grant said potential adopters should also think about how they will socialize their pet. With social and physical distancing measures in place, many dogs may be unable to be socialized at that young and crucial age.

“It’s so tough. There is a small period of socialization in puppy’s ages. There’s not much we can do but what have been adding into our classes is adding other socialization. There are things you can do at home (like) teach them biting inhibition,” Grant said.

“Unfortunately, we are missing the key socialization such as the playing with other puppies, but we’re adding enrichment and socialization they can do at home,” she said.

The humane society is still offering puppy and polite pooches classes, however, it has moved online to a virtual session.

“Their dogs and puppies are doing better because they`re more comfortable and they`re learning a bit quicker at home with less distractions,” Grant said.

Due to high demand, they have added more classes but have limited each class to five puppies or dogs.

Both AARCS and the Calgary Humane Society have modified their adoption process, and are asking those really serious apply.

Emergency Preparedness Plan

Humane Canada said across the country, adoption numbers have increased and range from 20 per cent to 60 per cent.

The organization is suggesting people have an emergency preparedness plan for their pets, including these suggestions.

  • Prepare an emergency kit. Keep at least two weeks of food and water, as well as medication.
  • Identify trusted family or friends who can care for your pet. Have at least three options in case someone becomes sick.
  • If you have tested positive for COVID-19, practice social distancing and avoid petting them.

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