A Run on Dogs During Pandemic

A Run on Dogs During Pandemic

“A dog’s life” means something very different these days.

It doesn’t mean the proverbial life of misery, but the exciting life of being wanted. So very wanted. It means that the furry, four-legged friends are being so sought after for companionship and to help put a smile on their two-legged friends’ faces, that dogs of all breeds have been hard to keep in adoption centers and shelters.

Late last spring, for instance, the request to adopt dogs was so great that waiting lists became even longer than the lines outside Trader Joe’s and Target at the height of the pandemic.

“If I had eight dogs in my shelter, I had 108 applications,” recalled Laura Witzal, the owner of Pawsitively Furever Dog Rescue in Hackensack. “It was just insane the quantity of applications we were getting. People were asking for small dogs, but they were adopting all kinds of dogs,” said Ms. Witzal, who works as a nurse.

She estimated that requests for adoption is at least 100 percent up from the pre-Covid period. “My dogs would come in on a late Friday and were adopted by the end of the weekend,” she said.

Her facility rescues dogs from kill shelters, mainly located in Texas, said Ms. Witzal.

Families or individuals that are deemed eligible to adopt the dogs are vetted very carefully. They are assessed on the basis of whether they have owned a dog previously, how they cared for that pet, in what kind of home they live, for starters.

For instance, an apartment dweller wouldn’t be a suitable owner of an energetic or large dog that needed space to play outdoors. Ms. Witzal checks personal, professional and veterinarian references from those who seek dog adoption. She also checks out the applicant’s social media profile while doing a throughout background check.

“I usually know more about the person than they could imagine when they walk in to see our dogs,” she said. “We have to make sure that our dogs are going into the right homes.”

In addition to the rescued animals, Ms. Witzal also has had to find homes for dogs that could no longer be cared for by their previous owners and “rehome” these pets.

The coronavirus pandemic has forced some owners to part with their dogs because in some cases, they could no longer afford to keep their dogs due to financial difficulties, or in other cases, they have had to move, sometimes into smaller apartments where dogs are not allowed.

“We have dealt with a lot of different situations during this time,” she said.

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