Dog adoption skyrockets during pandemic

Christina Jochum of Mk Kehlas Pet Services works with around 10 dogs a day for her dog daycare program. Despite the pandemic keeping many people at home, Jochum’s program remained full with four-legged participants. (Herald / Bob Eddy)

Many people who have been encouraged to stay home during the pandemic have decided they would like the company of four-legged friends – according to area dog rescues, adoptions have soared over the past seven last few months or so.

“Our adoption figures [have] increased to numbers never seen before,” said Heather Bent, founder of Potter’s Angels, a Randolph-based nonprofit lifesaving organization. “As soon as we get a dog, he’s gone.”

But, she added, it’s hard to know exactly how much the adoption rate has increased because the rescue – which works with both local surrenders and high-mortality shelters in other parts of the country – had a harder time getting dogs, with some shelters closed during the pandemic.

She noted that since the start of the pandemic, adoptions have been much faster for dogs that are generally more difficult to place, such as older dogs and dogs with behavioral issues. It’s hard to know exactly why that would be, she said.

Considerations

Bent said her biggest concern about people adopting under unusual circumstances, such as working from home, is that they can unknowingly reinforce unwanted behavior in a dog.

For example, she said, new dog owners might not realize that while during the pandemic they may be around their dog most of the time, owners still need to train their dogs to be apart. humans they live with, otherwise their dog may suffer from separation anxiety once the pandemic is over.

“It’s temporary,” Bent noted, adding that she would like to see more owners spend time learning about dog behavior.

Another, albeit lesser, concern for Bent is that owners may become less attached to the dogs they’ve adopted post-pandemic.

Potter’s Angels works to ensure they house dogs with committed owners, she noted, so she’s relatively certain such a change won’t happen, at least with the dogs her organization has helped. to host.

She said Potter’s Angels is a rescue very much focused on evidence-based dog behavior training and has a list of recommended trainers and experts on its website. Just as important as getting a dog trained, she stressed, is finding a trainer whose methods are evidence-based.

Doggie Day Care

Christina Jochum, owner of Mk Kehlas Pet Services in Randolph, said her “dog daycare” program has always been full throughout the pandemic, with 10 dogs she works with daily.

But at Randolph Animal Hospital, where owners can house dogs while traveling, staff member Julie Kinney said the number of dogs they house has dropped significantly during the pandemic.

When the pandemic first hit in March and April, business immediately plummeted for all dog boarding houses, she said. But as things started to reopen over the summer, people started needing the occasional dog boarding again, she said.

However, the number remained much lower – on Friday she said no one had yet reserved a place for her dog for the Thanksgiving weekend.

Kinney noted that the animal hospital has capacity for about seven large dogs and a few small dogs. She added that while space may fill up in the coming weeks, it’s unusual that no reservations are made so close to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Although Randolph Animal Hospital helps rehoming cats, it does not usually adopt dogs. Instead, staff members usually refer customers to Potter’s Angels.

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