This unprecedented pandemic is undeniably impacting everyone in our state, and animals are no exception. COVID-19 has left our furry friends in need of our help now more than ever because of how it is affecting the people who would normally care for them.
Animal shelters have been forced to limit the number of staff who come into the facility in order to prevent the spread of the virus, leaving the few remaining employees overwhelmed with work as they look after all the animals.
Worse yet, in-person fundraisers and adoption drives can’t be held due to social distancing measures. This means it’s even harder for shelters to find homes for the animals, while also being unable to rely on their best method of acquiring donations.
That’s why I’m asking residents to consider adopting a pet. Although some of the usual procedures may have changed to accommodate social distancing, many shelters are using online applications to screen interested people and schedule meet-ups with the animal they may want to adopt.
If adopting is too much of a commitment, another great option is fostering.
Many of us are home most of the day as we wait for the worst of the pandemic to pass, which means we have more time to spend with pets than ever before. No outside commitments mean no worrying about leaving pets home alone all day.
In addition, a lot of people are feeling lonely and bored while looking for a way to help their community. Looking after a pet, even temporarily, is one way to help alleviate those feelings of boredom, loneliness and helplessness by making a difference in an animal’s life.
Looking after any living creature is still a responsibility that needs to be taken seriously, and any decision to foster or adopt should not be taken lightly. Especially if you want to adopt, you need to be sure you will still want your pet after this crisis is over.
But if you have the ability and genuine interest in helping an animal, now is the perfect time to do so.
I encourage everyone to find your local shelter and look into taking a pet home or even donating money, since donations can go a long way in helping facilities continue to function.
As for existing pet owners, it’s important to have a plan in place in case you become sick enough to require hospitalization due to COVID-19. Although we hope such measures never become necessary, it’s better for pets to have someone they can stay with than to be sent to a crowded shelter or left alone in your home.
Check with friends, relatives or neighbors before any potential illness occurs to see if any of them would be willing to take your pet if you become sick.
It’s important to be cautious when transferring a pet from a sick home to a healthy one, so temporary caregivers should contact an animal care specialist for advice on whether personal protective equipment or other precautions are necessary.
This pandemic is a new and confusing experience, which is why we must work together to make sure no one gets left behind, including the vulnerable animals that rely on us to care for them.
This op-ed was first published in the Burlington County Times on May 2, 2020: https://www.burlingtoncountytimes.com/opinion/20200502/guest-opinion-animals-need-care-too-during-pandemic