Many people are seeking to adopt shelter pets as a source of comfort amid the global pandemic.

By Melissa Farthing, Copy Editor

COVID-19 has caused thousands of businesses across the United States to shut down, including restaurants, retail stores, gift shops and more. However, some businesses that are deemed essential are doing all that they can to stay open and remain safe for the public, including one type of business that is often overlooked: animal shelters.

The growing pandemic has made it immensely challenging for animal shelters to run under their normal operations. Although pets cannot spread the novel coronavirus, according to the World Health Organization, shelter workers must be careful not to infect themselves or potential adopters with the sickness. Fear of expanding the disease has caused many shelters across the country to shut their doors to public visitation, resulting in curbside or virtual adoptions.

The closure of animal shelters has not stopped the quickly rising demand for adoptions, however. A number of shelters are reporting a record number of applications sent in over the past several weeks. The ASPCA reports a 70 percent increase in foster care applications in their New York and Los Angeles locations.

It is believed that this spike in interest is a result of the current stay-at-home orders caused by the pandemic. Many people are beginning to feel lonely from the isolation or need a distraction from the stress of the time period. 

The answer to these problems: adopt an animal from a shelter.

Some people will first welcome an animal into their lives as a foster pet, and in about half of these cases, the animal will remain as a permanent family member, according to The Los Angeles Times. Other people intend to keep the animal full-time when they look into picking out a pet from a shelter.

It appears that, in most cases, bringing a new furry friend into the home during the quarantine is a smart move. Many new pet owners are reporting less anxiety and a boost in mood. One adopter tells The Los Angeles Times that her rescued puppy has been keeping her “mentally and physically occupied through everything” and that she “couldn’t be happier.” 

Today, shelters may look different, but that hasn’t stopped them from pairing their residents with their forever families.