Amid COVID-19 closures, some San Diegans turn to pet adoption

Posted at 2:11 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-20 16:35:28-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — As more San Diegans are working from home during the coronavirus outbreak, more pets are finding new families — but care extends past any quarantine orders.

Helen Woodward Animal Center says the center has seen an uptick in adoptions, nearly doubling normal adoption rates at the center last weekend. Many of those new pet parents came from educational backgrounds.

"We met professors, teachers, and counselors who had all been asked to work remotely and suddenly had lots of hours in a quiet house," said Helen Woodward Animal Center Adoptions Services Manager Dora Dahlke. "Grad students, too, who were now doing on-line classes, were seeking the company of a new pet."

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Dahlke adds that working from home allows new pet parents to spend more time training their new family members.

At Rancho Coastal Humane Society, adoptions are also up with half of people being serious and the other half looking "for something to do," according to John Van Zante with RCHS. RCHS temporarily closed on Friday.

San Diego Humane Society says the center has seen an opposite effect, with adoptions down since February.

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"Since the first week of February and through the first four days of this week, our adoption numbers have decreased significantly," Nina Thompson with SDHS said. "Of course, we wish this was not the case. Now more than ever the animals need our help, so we truly encourage the public to welcome a new family member into their home."

But as Zante notes, welcoming a pet is not a two-week affair. Once schedules return to normal, that new family member will require the same care and attention.

"One lady asked me if she could come in and adopt a pet for two weeks then bring it back when she returns to work. Told her that probably wouldn't be good for her and definitely would not be a good idea for the pet," Zante said. "In two weeks the pet would have started to bond with her, then have its life turned upside down."

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In that instance, those who are looking for an animal fix can utilize other means. Helen Woodward has started a daily "critter cam" to live stream its animals and will offer educational programming.

The San Diego Zoo also has several lives streams of animals in its parks and education online.