Adopting During the Pandemic

Valerie Masi

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While the country is sheltering in place due to COVID-19, unemployment is higher than during the Great Depression. AARP reports that a stunning 41 million people have filed for unemployment benefits since the global pandemic was declared a national emergency in March. It’s a difficult time. However, there are always good things that come out of bad situations, and that is that animal adoptions are so high, many shelters are empty for the first time. Similarly, rescues are finding homes for their animals like never before. People have all this time on their hands, and they want companionship while sheltering in place.


Some rescues did not adopt out during the pandemic, because they were worried about their animals coming back after the shelter-in-place order is lifted and people go back to their busy schedules.


Some rescues did not adopt out during the pandemic, because they were worried about their animals coming back after the shelter-in-place order is lifted and people go back to their busy schedules.

As a trainer, I have a couple of concerns about when people go back to normalcy. My first concern is dogs suffering from separation anxiety. Dogs get used to their people being home all the time, and when owners go back to their normal schedules, some dogs will start to act out when they’re left alone—some get destructive in the house, while others may cower in a corner the whole time you’re gone and start to show more stress on a regular basis. To prevent this, you should practice leaving the dog alone, first by putting it in another room with calm music and darker lighting for a couple of hours. Then move on to leaving for an hour, then an hour and a half, and so on.

TIP: Practice leaving the dog alone, first by putting it in another room with calm music and darker lighting for a couple of hours. Then move on to leaving for an hour, then an hour and a half, and so on.

My other concern is people doing exactly what some rescues were afraid of—turning the animal back into the rescue or shelter they got it from. It’s important for people to realize the mental damage this does to a dog. With each rehoming, the dog becomes more and more insecure, and that could create reactive, destructive, guarding or bullying behavior. So the next person gets frustrated with that behavior, so they return the dog again, and on and on. I saw it so many times when I was the behaviorist at the Riverside County Shelter.

The number one reason dogs are returned is because of bad social behavior. Unfortunately, these behaviors have all been created by humans.

I suggest, before you think your pet will be better off with someone else, that you consider how destructive rehoming is for the animal. Call a trainer to help you with your pet’s behavior, and honor the commitment you made to that animal when you adopted it. They give us unconditional love; we owe them the same unconditional love. Trainers and veterinarians are here to help you through whatever problems you have. Together, we will get through this pandemic. And together, we will help your pet to adjust to its new normal.

Happy Tails!

Valerie Masi, owner of Best Paw Forward, can be reached at (760) 885-9450 or visit bestpawforwarddogtraining.com.

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