The Impact of COVID-19 on Pet Adoptions and Surrenders in Sheridan County | Local News
SHERIDAN – The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the number and type of pet adoptions and surrenders in Sheridan County, according to a report from local animal shelters.
Mckayla Ward, director of the Second Chance Sheridan Cat Rescue program, announced on Friday that the pandemic era has seen a dramatic increase in adoptions of cats at the rescue, which is home to more than 170 cats mostly with special needs.
In April 2020, Ward explained, the rescue saw more than fifty new adoptions, well above its normal monthly average. And the number of adoptions per month to the rescue has remained above average since.
Sheridan Dog and Cat Shelter Executive Director Jill Moriarty reported that the number of adoptions at the shelter did not increase overall during COVID-19, but the demographics of new adopters have changed. For example, Moriarty reports that more families have started adopting pets after schools began to close in March 2020.
Moriarty has also noticed an increase in the number of pet families adopting out of state from the dog and cat shelter. Wyoming’s relatively lax COVID security requirements have drawn families seeking to adopt states with much stricter restrictions, where extended periods of home schooling and working from home were expected, Moriarty said.
However, Ward and Moriarty agreed that animal discounts have increased over the past year, but the circumstances and frequency of the discounts differed depending on the type of pet.
Although many recent news articles have claimed that this increase in disposals is the result of mass adoptions returned – in which owners have found their newly adopted pets to be ‘too much to deal with’ or unmanageable after returning to work – this may not be the case. in Sheridan County. Factors other than the animal’s handling, note Ward and Moriarty, contributed to the number of surrenders.
Ward said the increase in surrenders appears to be primarily related to the financial woes of the pandemic era. Moriarty agreed that social factors – as opposed to an inability to care for animals – led to an increase in assignments. She said the influx of new residents to Sheridan and the lack of affordable and pet-friendly housing have contributed to the increase in disposals.
âIt’s heartbreaking to see people fall apart crying because they really don’t want to give up their pets,â Moriarty said. “We are really [the petsâ] âHouse between houses. ”
Additionally, the number and circumstances of recent animal surrenders to Sheridan differed depending on the type of animal, Ward and Moriarty said. While some dogs were returned to the dog and cat shelter after their adoption, the cats largely remained in their new home.
Moriarty reported that the dog and cat shelter had only seen an increase in return adoptions among the dogs. She speculated that many families who adopted puppies – especially large breeds, shepherds, and energetic dogs – made dogs after they became unmanageable. This leap in surrender has resulted in a dramatic increase in the length of time dogs stay at the shelter, as these dogs take much longer to be placed in loving homes. Last year, the average length of stay for dogs at the shelter was 38 days, while this year, to date, the same average is 72 days.
Despite expectations that they too would see an increase in returned adoptions, Ward said Second Chance Sheridan Cat Rescue has seen no demonstrable increase in returned adoptions after the pandemic adoption boom. In fact, the number of adoptions referred to the cat shelter was lower in 2020 than in 2019 and only increased slightly from 2019 levels in 2021.
Moriarty accepted. The pandemic has resulted in faster cat adoptions and no demonstrable increase in adoptions of cats returned to the dog and cat shelter.
âPeople recognize that cats need less [work], but are also great companions, âsaid Moriarty.
As a result, the average stay at the cat and dog shelter has dropped from 332 days in 2020 to 194 days this year to date.
Despite the upheaval the pandemic has brought to the adoption of pets, the leaders of the two shelters agreed that many pets have saved their humans in the past two years.
“When people were at home [during the pandemic]”said Ward,” they realized how meaningful these relationships were. [with their pets] are.”