Despite the sadness, uncertainty and disruption to millions of people’s lives, the novel coronavirus COVID-19 has provided some silver linings. One such positive side effect of people being asked to spend more time at home is the opportunity for individuals and families to open their abodes to needy animals.
Pet adoptions have increased as people have found more personal time to devote to companion animals. The Pet Health Network says that people experiencing loneliness from being apart from others often turn to pets to help them feel better. Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Virginia brought in 149 animals from high-kill shelters in March 2020 and adopted 134 in a single week, matching the agency’s monthly average. Data on New York City animal shelters indicates that, as of early May 2020, 43.5 percent of shelters were experiencing an increased demand for adoption since the COVID-19 outbreak.
As pet adoptions increase, new pet parents are urged to remember to take every precaution to keep their companions safe and secure. The summer months can be a prime time for pets to become lost. Increased thunderstorms as well as fireworks displays can frighten pets. Also, more time spent outdoors may make it easier for “escape artists” to find their way out of backyards or get free from leashes. Thankfully, there are some steps pet owners can take to keep pets safe.
• ID and collar: Pets should wear collars with attached identification at all times. This should include an up-to-date contact number. ID tags can be made at pet supply stores or are available at the Animal Humane Society facilities.
• Microchip: Microchips are small devices that are implanted under the pet’s skin. About the size of a grain of rice, microchips emit a low radio frequency that can be read by a handheld scanner. Virtually all vet offices and animal shelters are equipped with scanners. Microchips are designed to last the pet’s lifetime, according to HomeAgain, a microchip company. Once the pet is registered, the chip will link to a record of owner information that can be updated easily online.
• Sterilization: AHS says studies show that pets that have been spayed or neutered are less likely to roam for mates and potentially get lost.
• Pet-proof: Homeowners may have to make adjustments to their yards and homes to ensure pets cannot escape. Some dogs and cats can climb over tall fences or dig underneath. Speak with your veterinarian about how to pet-proof your property.
• Leash pets: Prey instinct can be high and even the most well-behaved pets may act differently when away from home. A secure collar/harness and leash will help keep pets safe on walks.
New pet parents should familiarize themselves with the steps to help prevent lost pets.