Adoptions rates 'skyrocketing' throughout all the pandemic, with local animal shelters seeing more people wanting companions and keeping them

High adoption rates carry on

Casey Richardson

Through all of the hardships of the pandemic, one major plus has come for animals and the shelters who care for them, continuing to see an increase in adoptions since last March with everyone wanting a furry companion at home.

“Our adoption rates have really skyrocketed, we’re having a hard time keeping the animals in the shelter. But that’s a good thing,” Carolyn Hawkins, Branch manager for the Okanagan Similkameen BC SPCA.

“Well during the pandemic, we’ve had quite a few more adoptions for cats and dogs and even rodents, little hamsters and rabbits. I believe with more people hanging around the house, being quarantined or isolated or just needing to stay at home, they’re looking for a companion.”

Critteraid Animal Director Jess Byer has seen the same thing, although they’ve always had cats needing homes in the animal sanctuary, the interest has noticeably increased in taking home a furry pal.

“What we’ve noticed is we can normally do one adoption event per month, and that's enough to adopt out cats that are most in need of homes,” Byer said, adding this month they’re having four instead. “We literally added one more Sunday this Sunday...just to keep up with the demand and if we have to we’ll add another one.”

And although there may be concerns about so many adopting, so far those who are picking a pet are keeping them.

“The thing though is people have to understand is that we are screening a little tighter because we really want this to be a lasting home, longer than the pandemic. So it's been crazy and it’s been a lot more work because we really want to make sure that these cats are going into forever homes, not just filling a void,” Byer said.

“Well luckily we haven’t had any returns,” Hawkins said. “A lot of animals aren’t coming in, people are deciding to keep their animals."

The added time at home also benefits the pets, getting to create more of a bond with their owners right away.

“They can focus more on treat training, on playing with them. The interaction they need to come out of their shell when they’ve been so hurt,” Byer added.

Most of the animals coming into the shelters are either from homes that can’t support the pet's medical conditions, strays off the streets or from situations like hoarding houses.

The BC SPCA dealt with a situation that happened in Princeton with 97 badly neglected animals seized from a known animal hoarder, including 43 puppies, 24 adult and senior dogs, 27 horses and three cats, with some passing from their injuries.

“The animals were very ill, they had a lot of things going on..it was really really difficult,” Hawkins said.

And Critteraid has been taking in dozens of cats from other unfortunate cases, including a recent house found with over 100 cats.

“It’s a never-ending situation,” Byer said.

But the animals being picked up soon find homes after being treated, with a great interest even shown in adopting older ages. Critteraid hosted an adoption event this month showcasing their adult cats and had fully booked up the days slots.

“It was a really nice touching moment, versus the past previous year where it was just [wanting] kittens,” Byer said.

“We’re having a lot of people who want older dogs, more so than puppies,” Hawkins added.

“Animals are your fur family, they’re companions. There’s research stating there are health benefits for having animals, they lower your stress, you can talk to them. If you’re alone, you always have somebody with you. There’s a lot of advantages to having a pet.”

The rescues continue to work on looking after the animals who can’t go to forever homes and are grateful for the community's support towards their programs.

The BC SPCA continues to provide help to the community as well, offering dog and cat food at their front door for owners with low income and provides emergency animal boarding for residents who suddenly have to go to the hospital for COVID-19 or other health issues and for women escaping domestic violence.

Both animal shelters are open by appointment only, for more information, visit the Okanagan Similkameen BC SPCA’s website or Critteraid’s website.

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