Neglected animals receive second chance amid global pandemic

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Many people who must stay home due to the pandemic have adopted a new pet, such as these dogs recently adopted from Animal Friends of the Valleys. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

Animal shelters from across the country have seen their shelters become nearly empty in March and April due to stay-at-home orders put in place by state and local officials. Many people who are forced to stay home due to the pandemic have adopted or fostered a new pet.

During the month of March, Animal Friends of the Valley in Wildomar provided homes for 94 cats and 172 dogs. In addition to those adopted, 56 pets have been taken to rescue organizations. Pets that are taken in by a rescue are able to get more socialization and specialized care depending on their needs.

“We are so blessed to have a community that cares so deeply for the pets in need in our valleys. We truly could not do the work that we do without support of Animal Friends like you,” Animal Friends of the Valley said in their newsletter recently.

While those interested in adopting can still visit in person, Animal Friends of the Valley has implemented social distancing guidelines mandated by the state. All adoptable pets are listed on their website at http://animalfriendsofthevalleys.com, where potential owners and fosters can complete an adoption application before visiting the shelter. Those who are unable to adopt are encouraged to foster animals and provide them with the socialization and exercise they need.

It is tempting for residents to foster or adopt a pet when they have extra time available; however, it’s important for new pet owners to be aware of the responsibility they are taking on when bringing in a pet.

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals explained that pets that are available to foster often require extra attention that the shelter staff is not able to provide. ASPCA recommended that pet parents should be educated on how to feed them according to size and weight, to exercise the pet according to its energy levels and to provide positive socialization to help them thrive in a future, permanent home.

Foster parents can apply online at https://animalfriendsofthevalleys.com, in a process similar to the adoption process. Upon being accepted, foster parents will be given essential items to care for their pet such as bedding and food. Because California is under a stay-at-home order, foster pet parents are urged to send photos and videos for staff at Animal Friends of the Valley to post on their adoption page. Photos and videos often display the unique personality of animals that may not otherwise be seen in a shelter environment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that it is rare for animals to transmit the coronavirus to humans.

Dr. Hukabee, a wildlife veterinarian for Progressive Animal Welfare Society said that, “good hygiene practices are essential to prevent spread and to protect your health and that of your pets. This includes frequent hand-washing before and after interacting with your pet and not touching your face during and after interactions.”

New pet owners and foster caregivers should be aware that many things that they would traditionally do with a pet may not be possible due to the pandemic. Dog parks have been closed to promote the social distancing orders mandated by the state. Vet visits, grooming, training and more may be impacted by the pandemic. Technology has allowed some training and veterinary visits to continue. Trainers can often provide training and guidance over the phone and via video conference.

The ASPCA discussed the importance of fostering pets in a recent newsletter, urging those who are able to foster during this time. With kitten season quickly approaching, the shelters could benefit from a few extra hands, the organization said.

“Dogs and cats of all ages benefit from fostering,” the ASPCA said in its newsletter.

Samantha Cox can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.