URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — Animal shelters across the country are experiencing an unprecedented shift since the COVID-19 pandemic started.
There has been a significant decrease in animals coming into the shelters, including those in central Illinois, leaving staff wondering why it is happening. “This year it’s just been very quiet,” said Mary Tiefenbrunn, Champaign County Humane Society Director. Less barks, empty cages and fewer adoptions than usual are just some of the things happening at the humane society since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We didn’t really know what to anticipate. At one point a lot of shelters were preparing for a lot of intakes because we thought if people were all going to the hospital there would be a lot of animals that needed care,” said Tiefenbrunn. As the pandemic stretched on, the exact opposite happened. “Our intakes are down considerably. I would say they’re down by more than 50%.” This is happening throughout the country. The most recent ShelterWatch Report also shows adoptions are down 30 percent, likely because there are fewer animals to choose from.
“It seems like everything in people’s lives has been put on hold including making a decision about relinquishing an animal.” Tiefenbrunn said while fewer animals are coming into the shelter may seem like a good things, “it actually just raises a lot of questions. We’re kind of wondering when the other shoe will drop,” Because the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have made everything so unpredictable, they are not sure what to expect next or what will change as the stay at home order progresses.
But for those who have adopted a dog during quarantine, many have become used to being with their people 24/7. So those who work at the shelters want to get a message out for when people start to go back to work and resume their normal schedule. “If you don’t prepare your dog for that you could really set your dog up for serious anxiety issues.” They said it is best to gradually transition your pets and prepare them to be alone again.
Shelters in Illinois are still operating by appointment only for adoptions. You can call ahead and set up a time to meet with the animals.