Animal Shelters Call For People To Foster Pets Amid Coronavirus Pandemic

Hilary Hanson

If the COVID-19 pandemic has you spending more time at home, feeling bored and craving company, there may be a purr-fect solution that will also help an animal in need: fostering a pet.

Fostering a pet typically means that an adoptable animal lives with you temporarily while awaiting a more permanent home. It helps prevent overcrowding in shelters, and can be especially helpful for animals that need special care, like very young kittens or puppies. And the spread of the novel coronavirus has created a situation where some shelters are especially in need of fosters.

“What we’re trying to do is prepare for the worst at this point,” Eric Rayvid, a spokesperson for Best Friends Animal Society, an animal welfare nonprofit, told HuffPost.

Animal shelters in cities across the U.S. ― including New York City; PhoenixSt. LouisMemphis, Tennessee; Norfolk, Virginia; and Austin, Texas ― have put out pleas for people to consider fostering.

Some shelters have already had to close to the public or cancel events, and many others may need to do so in the coming days ― meaning fewer pets are being adopted out, even as animals continue to come in. Shelters want to move as many animals as possible off the premises and into foster homes, in case they’re hit with staffing shortages as employees and volunteers get sick or need to self-quarantine.

“If it’s a large-scale shelter and you have a skeletal staff, that’s just going to be that much more of a burden for those folks to have,” Rayvid said. “The less animals that are there, the better work environment for [staff] and the better for the animals.”

And, he noted, fostering is a great opportunity for those practicing social distancing or being told to work from home.

“Having a pet around ... is good for your head,” he said. “It’s going to take you out of yourself a little bit. If you get a dog, it’s going force you to go outside. If you get a cat, it’s going to force you to spend...

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