Nearly a year ago, when the coronavirus put its stranglehold on our country, people were lightheartedly predicting two trends would result from it: COVID babies (an upsurge in the number of babies born nine or 10 months after the stay-at-home order went into effect across much of the United States), and COVID divorces, which speaks for itself.
Here’s a trend that actually did play out: Pets, at least in the Sacramento area, have been highly sought after during this pandemic. “Shelters across the country, including Front Street, have seen record numbers of people adopting and fostering animals,” says Phillip Zimmerman, animal care services manager with Front Street Animal Shelter. “People are at home and have the time to foster and/or adopt an animal. Animals need training. With a lot of animal owners working from home, not traveling, they have more time available to bond, train and work with their animals.”
The Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ director of marketing and communications, Dawn A. Foster, echoes that sentiment. “2020 was definitely the year of pet adoptions!” says Foster, noting that families flocked to the shelter’s website and social media channels during the pandemic, “realizing more than ever before—and while spending more time at home—the exponential benefits of sharing life with a furry companion.”
Shelters and rescues including Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary in Sacramento, which takes in homeless cats and dogs, drew interest from adopters as far away as the Bay Area because there were not enough animals to go around. “Why not open up to those areas when we know the cats are going to great homes?” says Venus Hocking, Happy Tails’ center manager.
Kelly Cunningham, Happy Tails’ dog foster coordinator, echoes the sentiment. “We are getting 25 to 50 applications per dog,” says Cunningham, who says pre-COVID she was typically getting five to 10 applications per dog.
Finally, an early January Instagram post from Bradshaw Animal Shelter boasted that more than 3,000 animals “found forever homes” in 2020—despite the shelter being closed for nearly four months. “In the first month of our modified operations under COVID-19, we sent 306 pets home with adopters,” says Allison Harris, the shelter’s public information officer.
Veterinarians have seen an increase in new puppy and kitten appointments as well. Keith Rode, DVM, co-owner of Woodland Veterinary Hospital in Woodland, says his practice has seen an influx since the pandemic started. “It’s great because they (people) may have thought about getting a cat or dog ‘someday’ but had not done it, but when they find themselves sitting around the house, that ‘someday’ is now,” says Rode, whose family adopted two new kittens in spring of 2020.
Let’s take a look at adoption and veterinary care, introduce some organizations, and consider some other important aspects of sharing our lives with pets in Sacramento.
How did people find their new pets?
Pre-pandemic, you could walk into many shelters, rescue organizations or partnering pet stores during open hours, peruse the animals and do a meet-and-greet on the spot. These days, you can look for adoptable pets online via shelter and rescue websites. While protocols may differ slightly depending on the organization, the drill goes somewhat like this: If you see an animal you think would be a good fit, call or email the organization. If it’s still available, an adoption counselor will be in touch. The next step is a face-to-face introduction—by appointment only, mask on. If it’s a match, you’ve got a friend. If not, keep trying.
With such a high volume of interested adopters, the cat or dog you had your eye on may be snapped up by the time your application comes up in the queue. Take the advice of experts such as Venus Hocking, center manager for Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary in Sacramento: “Be open and flexible.”
Where To Adopt
Bradshaw Animal Shelter: (916) 368-7387; animalcare.saccounty.net
Front Street Animal Shelter: (916) 808-7387; cityofsacramento.org/community-development/animal-care
Placer County Animal Services Center: (530) 886-5500; placer.ca.gov/animal
Placer Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: (916) 782-7722; placerspca.org
Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: (916) 383-7387; sspca.org
Yolo County Animal Services Shelter: (530) 668-5287; yolocountysheriff.com/services/animal-services/
Yolo County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals: (530) 902-6264; yolospca.org
Animal Outreach of the Motherlode: (530) 642-2287; animaloutreach.net
Cats About Town Society: (916) 224-1117; catsabouttown.org
Fat Kitty City: (916) 939-3418; fatkittycity.org
FieldHaven Feline Center: (916) 434-6022; fieldhaven.com
Fluff Buddies: (916) 214-8020; fluffbuddies.org
Friends Forever A Cat Sanctuary: (530) 885-4228; ffacs.org
Itsie Bitsie Rescue Inc: itsiebitsierescue.org
Lapcats: email@example.com; lapcats.org
Mission Meow: missionmeowcats.org
River City Cat Rescue: (916) 326-0033; rivercitycatrescue.org
Sacramento Area Kitten Rescue Alliance (SAKrescue): (916) 491-1657; sakrescue.net
South PAWS Pet Rescue: firstname.lastname@example.org; southpawsrescue.org
Chako Pit Bull Rescue: email@example.com; chako.org
Foothill Dog Rescue: (530) 676-3647; foothilldogrescue.org
Great Dane Rescue of Northern California: gdrnc.org
Homeward Bound Golden Retriever Rescue: (916) 655-1410; homewardboundgoldens.org
NorCal Cocker Rescue: (916) 541-5149; norcalcockerrescue.org
Nor Cal Beagle Rescue: norcalbeagles.com
Scooter’s Pals: (530) 350-2099; scooterspals.org
All Creatures Animal Rescue: (844) 390-0882; allcreaturesanimalrescue.com
Happy Tails Pet Sanctuary: (916) 556-1155; happytails.org