15 April 2020 – Due to lockdowns and strict curfews in many countries and the resulting isolation, people increasingly wish for a pet to keep them company. The current situation seems like the ideal time to provide a temporary foster home for an animal or even adopt a pet. However, global animal welfare organisation FOUR PAWS warns against spontaneous decisions: Taking in a pet needs to be considered carefully. Adoption means committing to care for a pet and provide a stable and safe home in the long-term. Fostering should also not be taken lightly, as many animals are in need of special care and attention.
Animal shelters face enormous pressure due to the current situation, as many people give away their pets. Some are unable to care for their pets financially after losing their job or experiencing a loss of income. Others are afraid that their pets might transmit coronavirus to humans and thus hand them over to shelters. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and supported by scientific findings, such fears are unfounded. Nonetheless, people are worried. FOUR PAWS urges all those who want to take in a pet more than ever: adopt don’t shop.
“Animals offer emotional support in times of crisis. Their presence reduces stress and has a positive impact on mental health. It would be great if lots of shelter animals found loving forever homes now. But it’s crucial for people to consider carefully if they can provide and care for a pet for the rest of its life, and not only for company during a tough time.”
Sarah Ross, Companion Animal Expert at FOUR PAWS
“Anyone considering adopting or fostering a shelter animal should bear in mind that at some point social and professional lives will go back to normal. It is therefore important to make sure that the animals are still cared for after the restrictions are lifted, especially when it comes to adopted pets as they are a long-term responsibility. People need to consider whether they have the financial means to care for a pet for its entire life. Will they be able to walk the pet regularly? Is it possible to take a dog to the office? Animals have individual needs that must be met to ensure their wellbeing,” says Ross.
Lifestyle should be considered as well – dogs, for example, need a lot of attention and are not suitable for people who spend a large amount of their time away from home, leaving the dog on their own. Foster care needs similar consideration.
“When the world goes back to normal, foster animals that have experienced a lot of suffering already should not have to go back to the shelter. Fostering might provide short-term relief for shelters, but if the animals are returned once the isolation is over, the situation for both the animal and the shelter might even get worse,” says Ross.