The truth about cats and dogs during the pandemic? Not what you think.

Contrary to reports of all of these “pandemic puppies,” 2020 has not been such a good year for animal shelters. And 2021 promises to be even worse.

Global dog and cat adoptions, at least in shelters and shelters, fell in 2020 compared to 2019, according to Pethealth Inc., a pet insurance company that has created shelter management software. used by about 70% of shelters and animal shelters in the North. America.

And now adoptions this year are even lower, data from Pethealth shows. Even more worrying: more animals were euthanized between January and October than at the same time last year.

“Both the number of pets and the length of their stay are increasing,” says Michelle Cole, director of marketing and sales at Pethealth of Oakville, Ont., Which operates under the 24Petwatch brand in North America. The company’s adoption tracking software is used by more than 1,100 animal welfare organizations.

Labor shortages affecting other industries are also squeezing the pipeline of animals available for adoption, says Cole. Shelters and rescue groups usually coordinate the transport of animals from the south, where animals can breed year-round, to the north, where demand exceeds supply. But, as Ms. Cole notes, shelter staff are on the decline, including the number of vets doing the necessary medical assessments before animals can be transported across state lines.

Due to the limited capacity of shelters, euthanasia rates in parts of the South are reaching levels not seen in a decade, says Cole.

In the future, sophisticated apps like the ones powering some dating sites could improve adoption rates at animal shelters, Ms. Cole said. She envisions a digital tool that gives potential owners the ability to perform real-time searches of adoptable animals at multiple shelters and sort the results based on animal type, size and age.

For now, however, Ms Cole is encouraging potential owners to adopt older cats and dogs, which are generally less desirable and therefore more prone to euthanasia. She adds that potential owners can pay to have a private veterinarian assess an animal at the shelter so that it can be transferred to an out-of-state home.

Ms Cole says that unless more animals can be transported to areas of high demand, “we expect the problem to get worse.”

Ms. DeCarbo is a writer in South Carolina. She can be contacted at [email protected]

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