The coronavirus has made 2020 a difficult year for most people. For cats and dogs, however, there might have been a silver lining.
“I can’t tell you the demand we have right now,” said Kate Griffith, spokesperson for Midcoast Humane, an animal rescue and adoption organization with offices in Brunswick and Edgecomb.
The shelter reported 1,466 adoptions in 2020, down 1,022 from 2019. The numbers, however, do not tell the whole story, as the shelter said the organization had seen a noticeable increase in interest.
So why less global adoption? One of the reasons, according to Griffith, is the shortage of animals. Due to the limitations of interstate transportation brought on by the coronavirus, shelters have not been able to bring in as many animals from out of state.
“We are also saving many animals from shelters in the south,” said Mary Sundeen, president of Midcoast Humane. “Once you couldn’t go from state to state, or if you came to Maine, you had to wait 10 or 14 days in quarantine, which dried up the number of people who wanted to do that, do this trip. “
Midcoast Humane closed to the public on March 16, 2020 and now operates by appointment only. Griffith said the first large group of kittens that were transported after the start of the pandemic established a waiting list of more than 200 people.
While puppy and kitten transports drew large crowds before COVID-19, “now it’s an ongoing thing,” which includes “older animals that might not receive this attention normally,” Griffith said .
Transport resumed in October, but Sundeen said even now it is less than half of its usual level. This especially had an impact on the number of adoptions for the generally busy months for the shelter, such as “kitten season,” which takes place during the summer.
“I hear personal stories about people who work from home and they’ve been isolated and haven’t been able to see their family or friends,” Griffith said. “Maybe they’re immunocompromised, but their dog is there with them or their cats are there keeping them company.”
With people working from home, pets, new and old, are getting more attention and care than ever before.
“Animals are definitely winning in this pandemic,” Sundeen said, also noting that clinical reports have shown that people with pets can have lower blood pressure, less anxiety, and more pain. ‘exercise.
At Passion for Pets Rescue, a nonprofit dog adoption service based in Brunswick, President Lisa Bouchard said she noticed a similar increase in interest. Passion for Pets Rescue does not have a proper shelter and instead places homeless dogs in temporary foster homes while looking for an adoptive family.
“Since the pandemic, we’ve seen a huge spike in applications,” Bouchard wrote in an email, estimating that the number of applications had likely doubled.
Bouchard wrote that she believes that with more people working from home, more people want to adopt, but they have been “extremely cautious” because they “don’t want to see a spike in homeowners’ disposals once people go back to work “.
According to an annual survey by the Maine Animal Care Program, shelters in Maine transferred 9,748 cats and dogs in 2020, down 1,120 from 2019. A total of 23,864 cats and dogs were adopted into the shelters in Maine in 2020, up from 24,483 in 2019..