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How can I help animals shelters now?

The recent and rapid evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic has upended life for millions around the globe. Many find themselves laid off, and the struggle to fill the days in home isolation has put increased stress on many families. Animal shelters here in the US have been forced to close temporarily or to downsize the number of pets they house in order to minimize the COVID-19 risk to staff, clients, and visitors.

So how can you help your local animal shelter or pet rescue during these uncertain times?

  • Adoption
  • Fostering
  • Donations

Tips for Helping Animal Shelters

Consider adopting a pet. The COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent quarantine experienced by many communities have resulted in an unlikely benefit—a spike in pet shelter adoptions. Many shelters have streamlined their pet adoption processes to reduce paperwork and cut red tape, making it faster and easier to adopt a shelter pet than any time in the recent past. Some are also offering reduced adoption fees to make the process even more painless for potential adopters who are on a budget.

Adopting a pet is always a great idea, as it reduces the burden on shelters and helps cut the number of feral and stray animals currently living on their own. It’s even more critical during this period of uncertainty as shelters are being forced to limit their resources.

If not adopt, then foster a pet in need. The arrival of spring brings kitten season—when female felines traditionally go into heat. This is also the time when shelters see a large influx of new kittens. By fostering a litter (we’ve done it here at home several times), you can help free shelter resources for sick or injured animals, and reduce overall crowding.

Giving a forever home to a pet is a big commitment, and it’s not one that every family is prepared to make. Fortunately, there are other ways to help relieve stress on overburdened shelters. Fostering one or more pets for a short period (weeks to months) until they are placed in forever homes allows you to experience the love and joy of caring for a pet, without making a lifetime commitment.

Editor’s Note: With the recent outbreak of COVID-19 worsening, many people have come forward to foster or adopt pets to help clear out understaffed and overburdened shelters. Here are tips for fostering a pet during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Make a donation to an animal shelter. Animal shelters across the country are in need of donations to help them continue to provide the care and service they offer. With many people facing temporary layoffs off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, donations are likely to decrease over the next month. By donating directly to a shelter, you can help alleviate some of this financial stress while helping to ensure that your local shelter weathers the current storm. Remember, donations needn’t always be in the form of money. Check online to see whether local shelters are in need of any supplies (such as towels) that you could donate or ship direct.

A Note of Caution

If you are considering adopting a pet, take the time to be sure you can provide the safe, reliable, and consistent care that a dog or cat needs. Pet adoption is a real commitment, and all too often shelters find themselves in the awkward position of having to accept surrendered pets that only weeks earlier were adopted out. These failed adoptions can place a renewed burden on shelters that are already forced to limit cage space and resources during the pandemic. So, before you adopt, be sure you have time, money, and resources to devote to a new pet.


Cecily Kellogg is a pet lover who definitely has crazy cat lady leanings. Her pets are all shelter rescues, including the dog, who is scared of the cats. She spent eight years working as a Veterinary Technician before becoming a writer. Today she writes all over the web, including here at Figo.

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