Pet service providers busy during COVID-19 pandemic
With more families staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, more households have welcomed new pets than in previous years, a phenomenon that has been dubbed the ‘pandemic pet boom’. According to a study by American Pet Products Association, more than 11.3 million U.S. households have welcomed a new pet during the pandemic.
But while placing homeless animals with families is always a positive thing, the “boom” hasn’t been easy – or as clear as it might seem at first glance – in Center County.
âWe have certainly seen a big increase in cat adoptions and a big increase in foster care,â said Lisa Bahr, executive director of Center County PAWS. âPeople were more at home, ready to help out and open their homes to another pet without having to take financial responsibility, as much of it was pretty uncertain. Many jobs were uncertain, so they could take a pet without incurring the expense. “
In the first year of the pandemic, PAWS saw about 100 more cat adoptions compared to typical years. At one point, Bahr said, the organization saw more demand for foster animals than it had animals available for foster care. And while stray surrenders have returned to pre-pandemic figures and foster care has lost popularity, Bahr said PAWS has not seen an influx of new parents of pandemic animals returning their adopted animals to their return to work.
âThere is a lot of misinformation being shared that all of a sudden all of these pets that were adopted during the pandemic have been returned and this is absolutely not something that we have seen and it is not the national trend, âshe said.
Wanda Crosby, owner of Wiscoy Pet Food Co., agreed.
âAt first people were like, ‘Oh, I’m afraid all these animals are leaving shelters; are they just going to be fired? ‘ If the pandemic had ended in three months, that could have been true. These animals have now been with (their new homes) for over a year. It won’t be true.
For her clientele, Crosby said she has seen more pet parents take advantage of their extra time at home to improve the way they spend time with their pets, whether it is from member to member to long-standing fur from the family or a newly adopted one.
â(The pandemic) has increased an owner’s ability to care for, participate and even enjoy their pet. As soon as they were home, worked more at home, and the kids were more at home, it opened up that time capacity which was very, very different. So now they no longer walked the dog morning and night; they had the opportunity to do it in the middle of the day, âshe said.
However, Crosby is quick to note that she thinks the pandemic pet boom may have been overestimated. Among his clients, the new adoptive parents of pets were likely those who had already considered adoption before the pandemic.
At Wiscoy Pet Food Co., Crosby and his team have faced the same workforce issues as most businesses, as well as challenges in the pet products supply chain. Beyond these challenges, however, with more pets being placed with families, greater demand has also been placed on vets. It’s a trend Bahr has noticed among new adoptees, and Crosby said she has seen the same among her clientele.
At VCA Metzger Animal Hospital, Dr Fred Metzger said: âWe have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of patients due to the pandemic, in part because we are a general practice, reference and emergency 24 hours a day. 24. Many veterinary hospitals have reduced their office hours due to the pandemic and the underlying labor shortage in the industry has created a huge increase in the number of cases for us. “
At University Drive Veterinary Hospital, Dr. Sue Lincoski noticed an increase in the number of appointments related to the fact that parents of pets are simply closer to their pets.
âThe owners are much more attentive,â she said. âIt was a big trend. They were at home to notice things they might have missed, to see subtle things. It was great for the animals. They also seemed more willing to take stock when problems arose; maybe they saw the value their furry friends bring in an otherwise bad situation.
However, she said, “sometimes people were a little too attentive and quite a few nipples were mistaken for ticks.”
Looking to the future, parents of pets can expect a continued high demand for veterinary services, but luckily many vets are adapting their practices to expand their offerings. At VCA Metzger Animal Hospital, for example, a new 24/7 tele-triage live chat is free for all former customers, accessible via a mobile application.
Meanwhile, Bahr and the entire PAWS team hope to increase the number of dog adoptions, while maintaining a high number of cat adoptions. PAWS recently launched a Home for the Holidays promotion, which allows adoptive parents to save 50% on kitten adoption fees, while no adoption fees will be charged for adult dogs or cats.