A plethora of pandemic pet adoptions? Maybe not so much . . .


Pandemic-related pet adoptions are definitely up in the US . . . but maybe not as much as some news reports suggest.

According to PetPoint, a website that collects adoption data from more than 1,000 animal-welfare organizations in North America, adoption rates have varied greatly across the country in the past month. Their PetPoint Report is a weekly report that tracks the number of pets available for adoption.

As the site notes, “There are so many news stories being written that say pet adoptions are skyrocketing. . . . The reality is, it just isn’t true.” In fact, adoptions are down 36% overall since the crisis began and down 29% since the same time last year.

Karalyn Aropen, vice president of operations at AAHA-accredited East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Oakland, California, says her shelter’s track record bears that out.

True, East Bay’s pens are largely empty—but not because all the animals have been adopted.

Aropen told NEWStat that they currently have about 100 animals available for adoption, but due to a pandemic-related staff reduction, most of those are in foster homes while potential adoptees wait anxiously to find out if their applications have been approved.

Aropen says demand for pets has been steady ever since shelter-in-place orders went into effect in Oakland on March 16, but that adoption rates are actually running slightly behind what they were a year ago. Several factors cloud the issue.

Social distancing requirements forced East Bay to adopt an appointment-only, largely virtual adoption procedure, which means they can’t handle as many adoptions per day as they used to, says Aropen.

“Additionally, almost all of our partner organizations [who supply us with animals] have been able to place their populations into foster care or adopt them out,” she adds, which means that East Bay has far fewer adoptable animals available. “Finally, the intake of animals has slowed across all agencies in this area [due to a combination of] fewer strays and deferred owner-surrender appointments.”

Still, Aropen says, business has been brisk: “We’ve adopted out 107 animals since the beginning [of the crisis].”

East Bay currently has about 500 applications on file for those 100 available animals. Due to the shortage of adoptable animals, many applicants are submitting applications to multiple shelters to improve their chances of getting a pet, which may be skewing adoption figures even more.

Aropen says that East Bay’s adoption rate is actually running a little behind what’s normal for this time of year, due in part to the shelter’s new virtual adoption process, but there’s an upside: “We have more time to match the right pet with the right owner.”

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