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How the Coronavirus Has Affected Pet Adoption

woman feeding dogs in a cage
Dr. Erica Irish author of How the Coronavirus affected pet adoption

The SARS-CoV-2 virus, also known as COVID-19, has impacted millions of people worldwide. For Americans in particular, you or someone you know may have become infected, and even if that’s not the case, you may have been impacted financially due to unemployment or business closures.

While there have been a few documented cases of COVID-19 causing illness in animals, infection risk for our pets remains extremely low. However, pets are being affected in other ways, such as more time with their owners. Does this mean that fostering and adoption are also being affected?

What is the Coronavirus pandemic?

COVID-19 is a particular strain of the virus that comes from a family grouping known as coronavirus. In other words, there are other coronaviruses in the world like the kind that mutates to cause feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) in domestic cats.

The virus that causes COVID-19 has primarily infected humans and a few different animals like dogs, cats, and even tigers. However, animal infections are still considered extremely rare, and these documented cases were in direct contact with humans who tested positive for COVID-19.

Countries with high populations have been greatly impacted, especially here in the United States. The virus is greatly concerning because of its highly infectious nature. In a short period of time, the number of cases increased exponentially, and experts suggest that we are starting to see the second wave of cases. To date, there have been over 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the U.S., and there have been over 430,000 deaths from it worldwide.

In March 2020, the entire U.S. economy came to a screeching halt. Schools and daycares were closed immediately. Numerous businesses had to close in order to limit the risk of exposure, and this left millions of people furloughed or let go of their jobs. This has led to a great economic recession which has caused a further rift between the major political parties.

How has Coronavirus affected pet adoption

As everyone tries to do their best to limit their exposure and protect those around them, our social contact with one another has greatly diminished. Many people have had to stay home for the last several months, leaving some without companionship and thus taking a major toll on their mental well-being.

Pets have made a tremendous difference because it is well-known that dogs and cats make excellent companions. Not only can they interact with us on a daily basis, but they can also help people who suffer from depression and anxiety. Spending a few minutes petting or playing with your pets every day can even have physiological effects such as the lowering of one’s blood pressure.

During the first few weeks of this pandemic, areas in China were closed off to help limit the spread of infection, but this negatively affected pets who were trapped in these areas without care. People had to go into these areas to rescue these abandoned pets. Shelters in America were concerned that the same problem could occur here, and so they worked hard to ensure that pets could be adopted more quickly.

With more and more people staying at home, it became easier for folks to spend more time with their pets, and it also meant that people could spend time with new additions. Adoption rates gradually increased in large cities across America, and people who chose to foster animals for shelters and rescues became more likely to adopt them.

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What benefits have the Coronavirus pet adoption boom had on the population?

The increase in adoptions has had an overall positive effect on the population here in the United States. Pets are often a source of companionship and comfort, and some of them have even gone so far as to become Emotional Support Animals or Service Animals for people diagnosed with various physical and mental health disorders.

Pets provide a form of social interaction for their owners, and this is especially important in these times of isolation, loneliness, and fear. Before COVID-19, studies have demonstrated that pets provide their owners with extraordinary comfort and affection.

More people are spending time with their dogs and cats outside, in their yards or neighborhoods, or even just outside on the porch. Walks with dogs have also kept people active whereas people without pets may be more prone to a sedentary lifestyle.


COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the world, and according to experts, it is unlikely to dissipate any time soon. This could mean further closures and more isolation for people, who have been naturally social beings for thousands of years!

Thanks to the bond between humans and their dogs and cats, there has been an increase in adoptions across the country. Pets can have a miraculous impact on our well-being, and so perhaps their increased prevalence among us will show them to be little miracle workers when it comes to the negative impact of social distancing.

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Meet The Author 

Dr. Erica Irish author of How the coronavirus affected pet adoption

Dr. Erica Irish

Erica has worked in the veterinary field since 2006, starting out as a veterinary technician before graduating from the UF College of Veterinary Medicine in 2013. As a general practitioner in an animal hospital, she has many interests and is especially interested in dermatology, cardiology, internal and integrative medicine

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