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Monday, May 4, 2020

Get a New Best Friend

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Pet adoptions during COVID-19 have risen

For almost seven years, Maddie, a beautiful golden retriever, ran without a care in the world.

She lived in the country, with plenty of room to go wherever, whenever.

Then, Maddie’s family moved to the city.

And a house with a small yard. Too small, her owners decided, for their 70-pound faithful friend.

So, they gave up Maddie for adoption, taking her to the Humane Society of Northwest Louisiana (HSNWLA).

Fortunately, Maddie was only there for three weeks before going home to a loving family.

But it is not a coincidence Maddie was adopted during COVID-19 and the governor’s stay-at-home orders.

“It seemed like a good time to adopt,” said one of Maddie’s new family members, who had been without a pet longer than 10 years. “Being at home more than usual, I have more time to spend with her and help her get adapted to her new surroundings.”

While the coronavirus – and all that comes with it – has not been good for most businesses, it has been good for the pet adoption business.

Humane societies and animal shelters across the country – including Shreveport-Bossier – have seen an increase in adoptions.

For example, the HSNWLA averages 30 adoptions a month. In March, when the first Louisiana stay-at-home order was issued, 47 pets were adopted. In April, that number was closer to the monthly average.

“I think it’s because people are off work, and they have time to spend with the animals, house-train them, show them the ropes and take them on walks,” said Courtney Wingate, director of the HSNWLA. “People want to get out of the house right now, and what better way than to take your dog on a walk?” From individuals to families, people have decided now is a good time to add to their household.

“We have a lot of single people that are out looking to adopt right now, but mainly, people with families and kids,” Wingate said. “Usually, we see a spike in the summer when kids are out of school, but right now, since school’s been canceled, we’ve really seen a spike in adoptions with school-aged kids.”

At Ninna’s Road to Rescue in Benton, the number of adoption applications has been higher than normal. But what is interesting is from where those applications have come.

“We’ve seen an increase in applications from all over, including other states,” said Ninna Lopez. “We had an adoption of a Siamese cat – the people drove from South Carolina. I think people have a lot of time on their hands. They don’t mind driving somewhere else. We’ve seen a lot of out-of-state adoptions.”

Lopez said a man drove from Illinois a few weeks ago to adopt a dog. That’s right – Illinois.

Closer to home, Lopez recently facilitated an adoption with help from law enforcement.

“We adopted a couple of puppies to Texas, and that was right about the time they closed down the border,” Lopez said. “That was a little tricky, but we did get some help from the Texas Highway Patrol. They pretty much did the handoff. We met at the state line. We’ve really had to implement some creative processes to do adoptions.”

Not all adoption centers are open. Bossier City’s animal control unit is closed, adhering to guidelines from the National Animal Care and Control Association. However, people have been calling and stopping by – indications the desire to adopt is high.

“They want something to spend some time with, and what better option than having a pet,” said Dale Keeler, who oversees Bossier’s animal control unit. “They love you no matter what.”

At the HSNWLA, several steps are taken to ensure the animal you bring home is in good health.

“The dog you adopt from us has seen our veterinarian and is up to date on all of its shots,” Wingate emphasized. “Spayed or neutered. Microchipped. On heartworm prevention. On flea and tick prevention. So, we really go the extra mile to make sure the dog you are adopting is healthy.”

There is the possibility that once people go back to work full-time, they will have second thoughts about keeping the pet they adopted weeks earlier. However, Lopez says that depends on where the adoption took place.

“We’re very strict about where our animals go. They have to have a responsible dog ownership history. Excellent vet reference. They have to have had a history of owning dogs – being responsible. These are not the kind of people that are going to return a pet, or dump them on the road, or take them to a shelter. But for other shelters that may not be able to be as strict – like a municipal shelter – that might be a concern for them.”

Meanwhile, Maddie is enjoying her new home. She wags her tail, goes for walks and is always up for a good belly rub.

All thanks to COVID-19 – and an adoptive family.

• To learn more about the HSNWLA, visit www.hsnwla.com

• To learn more about Bossier Animal Control, visit www.bossiercity.org

• To learn more about Ninna’s Road to Rescue, visit www.roadtorescuela.org

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