If you’ve added (or want to add) a pet to your family to help cope with the looming anxiety of these uncertain times, you’re not alone. Studies have shown pets and therapy animals can help alleviate feelings of loneliness and social isolation, as well as reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. Across Oregon, rescue and adoption centers had record-breaking numbers of folks requesting to adopt and foster animals after the pandemic hit. At local adoption and rescue center the Pixie Project, development director Jessica Berg says they were receiving as many email requests for adoptions in a single day as they usually would in a month, which puts the nonprofit in a strange holding pattern. Translation: with many shelters closed or at limited capacity, there’s not enough supply to meet the demand.
While the Pixie Project continues most of its daily operations—adoption, fostering, and clinical care—it has shifted focus to help individuals (especially those who may have suffered a loss of income as a result of COVID-19) keep their pets by providing pet food, medication, and veterinarian care. If you’re looking for pet companionship right now, Berg has a few reminders.
“If the shelter doesn’t have the dog or cat you want right this second, keep checking in. It’s a constantly shifting landscape right now. One of our big worries is that because so many people are looking at the exact same time, people then go to breeders because rescues don’t have the animals [they want]. It may not be the instant gratification that you’re looking for, but rescuing over buying is a decision we’re always going to support more.”
“In an ideal world, the world is going to go back to normal ... so we want to make sure, even though there’s this urgency for adopters, that we’re still placing the dog in a home that’s going to be a good fit in six months, in a year, when people are back to work. We want to make sure that we’re giving people the tools so that when they adopt they’re not setting their pets up for things like separation anxiety.”
“There’s a lot of people right now who just need help with pet food or getting their dog outside. Check in with the people you know who have pets because there’s a pretty good chance they need a little support, too.... Right now, more than ever, what can you do to
support the community? Find the people you know and love who have animals and see if they need a hand with anything.”