Despite the sadness, uncertainty and disruption to the lives of millions, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has provided silver linings. One of the positive side effects of inviting people to spend more time at home is the ability for individuals and families to open their homes to animals in need.
Pet adoptions have increased as people have found more personal time to spend with pets. The Pet Health Network says people who feel lonely apart from others often turn to pets to help them feel better. Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Virginia brought in 149 animals from high-mortality shelters in March 2020 and adopted 134 in a single week, matching the agency’s monthly average. New York City animal shelter data indicates that as of early May 2020, 43.5% of shelters were experiencing an increase in adoption demand since the COVID-19 outbreak.
As pet adoptions increase, new pet parents are urged to remember to take all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of their companions. The summer months can be a prime time for pets to get lost. Increased thunderstorms as well as fireworks can scare pets. Additionally, more time spent outdoors can make it easier for “escape artists” to find their way out of backyards or break free from leashes. Fortunately, there are steps pet owners can take to keep their pets safe.
· ID and Collar: Pets must wear a collar with ID attached at all times. This should include an up-to-date contact number. Identification tags can be made at pet supply stores or are available at Animal Humane Society facilities.
· Microchip: Microchips are small devices that are implanted under the animal’s skin. About the size of a grain of rice, the microchips emit a low radio frequency that can be read by a handheld scanner. Virtually all veterinary practices and animal shelters are equipped with scanners. Microchips are designed to last the life of the animal, according to HomeAgain, a microchip company. Once the animal is registered, the chip will link to an owner information record that can be easily updated online.
Sterilization: AHS says studies show that pets that have been spayed or neutered are less likely to wander off looking for mates and potentially get lost.
· Pet-proof: Homeowners may need to make adjustments to their yards and homes to ensure pets cannot escape. Some dogs and cats may climb high fences or dig under them. Talk to your veterinarian about how to protect your property from pets.
· Leashed Pets: The prey drive can be heightened and even the best-behaved pets can act differently when they are away from home. A secure collar/harness and leash will help keep pets safe on walks.
New pet owners should familiarize themselves with the steps to help prevent pet loss.