A: TL;DR. Yes, initially, pet adoptions increased substantially. However, as many people are returning to their regularly scheduled routines of in-person school and office, there’s been an increase in the return of recently rescued pets.
While some folks are regularly checking the charts for daily new COVID-19 cases and deaths, employees at animal shelters have been tracking the rise and fall of pandemic puppies. In the beginning of the pandemic, the US saw an increase of 12% in puppy adoptions during 2020. Thankfully, pets have been able to provide companionship, comfort, and playfulness to individuals and families during this difficult and uncertain year. While a dog should never remain in a home where it can’t be properly loved and cared for, we also need to do whatever we can to try to keep our new furry friend with its adoptive family if possible.
As many of us are returning to more out-of-the-home commitments, shelters and rescue groups are observing a doubling of the usual rate of return of adopted animals, the majority of which are dogs under one year old. Many of the people returning their dogs are first-time dog owners who may not have realized the commitment pet ownership requires.
The returning of a dog can be traumatic for them and also overwhelming for shelters and rescue groups. We’ve compiled two lists of tips to guide you in making humane decisions around pet ownership during these unusual times. Please share this list with others.
WHAT TO DO:
🐕 Do contact the rescue group or shelter from which you adopted to see if they have resources or suggestions that would help you keep the dog in your home. Many will offer help with food, vet services, or other alternatives so the dog can remain with you in its “furever” home.
🐩 Do talk to friends, neighbors, and family members who are long-time dog owners to ask how they manage full time work/school with a furry family member.
👩⚕️ Do have a conversation with your veterinarian. They are often able to provide helpful information and suggestions.
🐶 Do make sure to give your pet exercise before you leave for work/school.
🦴 Do provide items like safe chew toys to keep them occupied. As suggested in the Tampa Bay Times article cited below, peanut butter-filled chew toys like Kongs and Nylabones or puzzle feeders work well.
🤔 Do take some time to identify the reason(s) you feel the need to return the dog. Write them down. Sometimes clarifying the reasons can lead to solutions you might not have thought of before.
🐾 If you can afford it, do look into doggie daycare or a dog walker to walk your pet during the day.
👪 Do talk to friends and family before making a final decision. Some of them may be able to step in to provide some support (like midday walks or play sessions) that would allow you to keep the dog.
😟 If you are considering returning your dog due to behavioral issues, do discuss this with a professional. Many undesired behaviors can be addressed through training, and many are a result of the dog being bored or not getting enough exercise or stimulation. This is sometimes not too difficult to address once you identify the cause of the behavior.
👧 If you are in a family situation, do sit down together to discuss what is necessary for the dog to remain in the home. Younger family members can often take on more responsibilities for the pet in order to take some pressure off the adults and to benefit the pet’s quality of life. Maybe an older child can walk the dog when they get home from school. Perhaps younger children can play with the dog in the backyard in the afternoon or evening.
🏢 If possible, do prepare your dog gradually for your return to work by leaving it alone for short periods and gradually increasing them.
WHAT NOT TO DO:
❗ First and foremost, do not consider “dumping” your pet in a nearby neighborhood or in a rural area assuming someone will find it and care for it.
⛔ Do not make a sudden decision. Having a dog as a member of the family can sometimes seem overwhelming when you return to work and/or school. Allow some time to let your new schedules settle in a bit to see if there are ways to adjust your schedule to accommodate the dog.
🚫 Do not give your dog to a friend or family member without contacting the rescue group or shelter from which you adopted to get their approval.
🆓 Do not attempt to rehome your dog by advertising it on social media or Craigslist as “free to good home.”
🏡 Do not suddenly convert your dog from an indoor to an outdoor pet.
🙅♀️ Do not suddenly crate your dog for long periods of time without training and conditioning it for crating.
Stay safe. Stay sane. Stay kind.
Those Nerdy Girls
ARTICLES ON PUPPIES BEING RETURNED: