Local animal adoption rates remain stable thanks to COVID-19 | New

As the communities of Harrisonburg and JMU continue throughout the pandemic, a number of lifestyle changes have emerged – one is an increase in the number of pet owners.

Tiffany Corbin, a JMU alumnus and head of marketing and fundraising for the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said the center had seen an estimated 20% increase in adoptions and a 400% increase in foster program use in 2020.

Corbin confirmed that these numbers have been constant throughout this year since the vaccine was introduced and businesses, schools and other institutions began to reopen. She said the center recorded its highest number of monthly adoptions with around 200 animals. The center has seen a “very constant flow of adoptions this year,” she said, registering a total of 934 adoptions so far.

Corbin said that although the SPCA does not track demographics people adopting animals, staff assumes more adoptions come from older locals rather than JMU students. It is still unclear whether this increase in the number of pet owners reflects the JMU community in particular.

For students residing on campus, pets are prohibited. Although owning a pet on campus is against college rules, some students bring pets into dormitories. Carolina Kirkpatrick, a sophomore Media Arts and Design (SMAD) student who lived in the dorms last year, said she secretly bought a hamster for $ 10 from a friend who could no longer afford her give the attention he thought he deserved. Her roommate last year, Tegan Lee, a second year elementary school student, co-owned the hamster with Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick said their hamster is “very loud and loves his wheel,” while Lee called the hamster a “serotonin booster,” especially in the midst of campus life during a pandemic.

With 30% of students residing in a variety of off-campus housing, some complex leases allow pets. Junior engineer Zach Neal has a dog in his off-campus apartment. Neal bought his dog from a local breeder in Roanoke, Va., In April during the pandemic. He said it was difficult to balance schoolwork, extracurricular activities and owning a pet, but he has the help of his girlfriend and friends.

“It’s really tough,” Neal said, “but I have a lot of friends who love to walk her.”

Corbin encouraged locals to adopt community cats – the “stray outdoor cats that don’t belong to anyone.”

Corbin said that “the SPCA’s biggest stray animal consumption is from outdoor cats,” totaling 952 cats this year.

Corbin encouraged adoptions, foster families and donations. To adopt, Corbin said people should go to the SPCA to meet the animals and take the necessary steps from there.

“We certainly still need more foster families and adopters,” Corbin said.

Contact Adaire Adams at [email protected] For more news coverage from JMU and Harrisonburg, follow the News Desk on Twitter @BreezeNewsJMU.


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