Don’t bring your pandemic rescue dog back to a shelter
When the pandemic hit, pet adoptions increased. It makes sense that lonely and isolated people want a new four-legged friend to hang out with. Sadly, many adopters made these relationships temporary and returned their pandemic rescue animals in 2021.
Aron Jones, executive director of Moms and Mutts Colorado Rescue (MAMCO), told the Huffington Post that 62 dogs have been returned to the rescue since February 2021. Of these dogs, 39 were adopted between March and July 2020. For context, a typical 12 month period sees an average of 50 overall returns, with half being puppies or dogs adopted up to 4 weeks previously.
Ideally, no dog would ever be abandoned by its owners. Yet this happens often and many will return dogs not to the rescue group they were adopted from, but to a municipal shelter. Jones said it could end very badly for dogs:
Many people even choose not to take the dog to a shelter, choosing to list them for free or sell them online or ditch them. As some experts point out, you never know who will end up with the dog in these online transactions. Worst case scenarios mean they could end up being abused or used as fighting or bait dogs.
Rescue groups want people who choose to bring their dogs home to come to them first. Rob Young, Center Operations Manager at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London, said:
“We would much prefer animal owners to do the responsible thing of contacting a rescue center rather than endangering an animal’s welfare by selling it online or ditching it somewhere. We are never here to judge people for the reasons of abandoning their pets.
Making a dog is traumatic for them
Dogs learn to love and trust new members of their pack when they find a home. Suddenly being uprooted and brought to a crowded animal shelter can have psychological effects on the poor dog. Nicole ellis, a dog trainer and pet lifestyle expert at Rover, explained to HuffPost:
“Most of the time, adopted pets have built their trust and love in you and their new routine. Being taken and placed in a noisy shelter, filled with smells and sights they don’t know, is a difficult transition.
Anxious or traumatized dogs find it difficult to show their best to potential adopters, especially in a kennel.
Dogs can adjust to your new schedule / return to normal schedule
Understandably, people are worried about how their quarantine animals will handle them going from home all day until dinner time. However, it doesn’t have to be the ordeal you expect. As Best Friends Animal Society Chef de Mission Holly Sizemore describes:
“By now, many people have no doubt discovered the secret reality of what dogs and cats really do all day. Whether there are people around or not, they sleep most of the time, with some food and play mixed in – all of which they can do just as easily without human company. “
For people who work long hours, dog walkers or sitters can be found both locally and through larger organizations. Many companies have also started allowing dogs, so find out what your workplace policy is.
If your dog is starting to show signs of separation anxiety (howling, furniture jaws, etc.), try loosening them up slowly into their new schedule rather than abruptly resuming your old routine. Practice leaving the house for short periods of time.
Advice for people having difficulties with their rescues in the event of a pandemic
Caring for an animal can be difficult at times, but it’s worth it! Before you think about relocating your dog, consider these tips:
- Anticipate that your dog may have separation anxiety. Give them time to adjust to their new situation, and if things get worse, consider seeking professional help. There is nothing wrong with going to the experts!
- Contact local rescues if you have difficulty providing food or care. They also want your pets to be taken care of! RedRover.org has a list of financial resources in your area.
- Take a walk or play with your dog before you leave for work and when you return. This stimulation and socialization will help your dog prepare for some time alone. It can also prevent behavior problems and strengthen your bond.
- Reward your dog for his independent and calm demeanor. They will learn to be confident by doing things on their own.
- Listen to soothing music, TV or radio while you are away. It can distract them from the surprising new sounds. A noise machine also works.
Keep in mind that there are many options available to you if you can no longer babysit your dog. Consider them before you drop them off at a shelter.