May 1, 2020

Data Shows 36 Percent Decrease in Pet Adoptions During COVID-19, Despite Increase in Pet Fostering

While the number of animals in foster care has increased by more than 35 percent since mid-March, national data collected by 24Pet ShelterWatch points to challenges post-pandemic due to an anticipated increase in animals entering shelters which, due to temporary restrictions in place, are currently unable to be taken in. The problem will further be exacerbated if animals who are currently being fostered are returned to the shelters as people go back to work.

Despite many shelters reducing their capacity and some even closing to the public in light of the current pandemic, at least 105,126 new animals have arrived in the 1,191 shelters monitored in the 24Pet ShelterWatch Report since the start of the pandemic. That figure contrasts with 212,733 that arrived during the same period last year a 51 percent decline due to the crisis.

“While we’re heartened by the overwhelming interest in fostering during this uncertain time, the numbers point to a challenging few months and years ahead if we can’t find permanent homes for the animals coming into shelters and in foster care,” said Michelle Cole, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer at Pethealth, parent company of 24PetWatch. “As we look to improve the long-term outcomes for these animals, we are calling on all Americans to consider the benefits of adopting a pet including a reduction in stress levels, an increase in physical activity and the benefits that come with companionship and the unconditional love pets provide.”

Shelters across the country are working tirelessly to cope with the impact of the pandemic and prepare for an anticipated surge in animals entering shelters post-pandemic. Data collected from the 1,191 shelters tracked by 24PetWatch, comparing data from March 13 to April 26 this year to the same period in 2019, have uncovered the following trends and insights:

  • A total of 121,263 dogs and cats are currently under the care of shelters (an 18 percent decrease)
  • 105,126 dogs and cats have entered shelters
    • 61,581 dogs have entered shelters (a 47 percent decrease)
    • 43,545 cats have entered shelters (a 55 percent decrease)
  • 51,158 dogs and cats have entered foster care
    • 27,698 dogs have been fostered (a 47 percent increase)
    • 23,460 cats have been fostered (a 7 percent increase)
  • 75,508 dogs and cats have been adopted
    • 45,716 dogs have been adopted (a 27 percent decrease)
    • 29,792 cats have been adopted (a 30 percent decrease)

24PetWatch makes key data available each week to inform national and regional strategies and efforts, uniting the US shelter community in its collective efforts to support animal welfare at this critical time. The 24Pet ShelterWatch Report: COVID-19 Impact is available to the general public, and Americans are encouraged to read it to learn more about the animal shelter population.

“While shelter staff are working hard in every region of the country to protect and care for our at-risk animal population, most shelters are dealing with changes in operations and reduced staffing,” said Cole. “We want to remind Americans that if you are having trouble connecting with a shelter in your area, be patient and reach out to multiple organizations.”

In addition to contacting local shelters to submit an adoption application, Americans who want to adopt are encouraged to visit pet adoption websites, or for more information.

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