State of Rescue Puppies Since the Pandemic Began

CitizenShipper CitizenShipper · Updated January 17, 2024

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, animal rescue shelters across the U.S. saw a spike in pet adoptions as people looked for the company of pets to see them through tough lock-down conditions. This demand for pets led to a shortage of adoptable pets in several cities. The Seattle Times reports in the summer of last year an increase of 10 times more adoption applications in Greater Seattle in comparison to a typical year. The Washington Post found that animal rescue groups in the Washington area had to extend their search for dogs to crowded shelters in North Carolina and Puerto Rico.  

Statistics Show Higher Adoption Rates

Shelter Animal Count, a database that tracks around 500 shelters and rescue organizations across the country looked at the trend in pet adoptions during the pandemic and found that 9% more dog adoptions occurred in 2020 than in 2019. The biggest spike occurred in April where 32% more dogs were adopted in 2020 than in April 2019. By November 2019 the number of adoptions had returned to pre-pandemic levels. 

The January 2021 statistics of PetPoint, an organization that collects data of all U.S. animal shelters, show that the total intake of dogs in January 2021 decreased in comparison to 2020 by 26,5%. As well as the number of owners surrendering, which went down by 23,6% in the past years to 14,874. Animal shelters report 24,7% fewer returns of dogs previously adopted and 29,3% smaller intake of stray dogs. 

While demand stays up, the data shows that the number of adoptions is going down because of the low lower amount of animals up for adoption. These numbers are not just a follow-up of the increased adoption rates of the past year but also of the significantly lower trend of dog owners do return, give away or leave behind their pets. The consequences are long waiting lists. The high adoption rate is, first of all, a significant relief for pet shelters because overcrowded institutions pose health risks for dogs and overwhelm volunteers and workers. But the new pressure for fast releases of dogs can lead to unwanted harm through a lack of time for going through the adoption process, training, and getting to know the future families.

Rescue Facilities Worried About End of Pandemic

With the fast rise of dog adoptions in the past year, animal shelters are worried that possibly too spontaneous adoptions could increase owners surrendering or returning their dogs after the end of the pandemic.

The global animal welfare organization FOUR PAWS International is strongly advising to think through the long-term commitment of adopting a dog is or should be before making this life-changing decision. They write:

“Animals can be a strong emotional support in difficult times, and you might feel with all the time on your hands during the Corona lockdown, now is the perfect time to foster or adopt an animal. However, this needs to be a carefully considered undertaking. Whilst a wonderful thing to do, adoption is a long-term commitment, and fostering should not be taken lightly.”

Want to Adopt Yourself?

Dogs can be amazing and loving companions in isolating and hard times as well as playmates in joyful moments. Many studies have shown that they can reduce feelings of loneliness, lower stress levels and blood pressure, and boost your mood. Adopting a dog can be great for your physical and mental health. 

While surveys show that many people share a feeling of wanting this company in their lives, it’s essential to be deliberate in any animal adoption decision. If you consider adopting or fostering a dog yourself, think through your life after the pandemic, be honest about your capacities – What can be a relief in a staying-at-home life can become a stress factor and burden in daily work social routines. Dogs adopted from shelters have often been abandoned by their first family and can come with stress, grief, and trauma. Therefore, it’s essential to provide a loving home and have the time, energy, and patience to learn about dog training.

If you still decide to commit to the enriching step of pet ownership, start by contacting foster homes in your area. Many foster adapted to the COVID-19 circumstances and offer online meetings to get to know each other, introduce the available dogs, or even respond to the pandemic by providing online training. If you can’t pick up the dog of your dreams yourself, the professional and experienced pet drivers of CitizenShipper can help you with bringing your new furry friend safely to your home. You can post your pet’s details and the route online and find over ratings, comments, and direct communication with the shipper you trust the most. It makes sense to find a person, which offers high-quality services to decrease the stress of this already overwhelming situation for your dog – sometimes this means paying a few dollars more.

The drivers of CitizenShipper have a high amount of experience with all kinds of dogs. Just ask potential drivers about it before making a choice. The most transported breed of the last year was Golden Retriever with a total of 575 transportations. German Shepherds followed with 486 transports, and the next highly demanded dog was an American Shorthair with 426. No matter which dog you want to transport, you will find the right person for the job!