While the COVID-19 pandemic has people confined to their homes, the number of adoptions at Animal Care Sanctuary in East Smithfield has increased rapidly.
From January through April of 2019, 275 animals were adopted from the shelter. During that same time frame in 2020, 475 animals were adopted.
“It’s quite a difference,” Assistant Director Rachel Rossiter said.
“It’s been record breaking for us actually. It’s been pretty amazing. We have more people interested in adopting than we have animals that they’re looking for,” Rossiter said. “I think now is a really great time to adopt because you can get your dog or cat acclimated to a schedule, and have time to make all of that happen.”
Rossiter said some people have voiced their concerns over what might happen to the animals when their new owners return to work.
“During the adoption process, we do talk to people about the future. When they do go back to work, they’re going to establish some different routines and what that’s going to look like,” she said.
Some of the critical aspects of that adjustment, especially for dogs, are walking it before and after work, as well as crate training.
With the increased rate of adoption, Rossiter has had to reach out all over the country to find animals.
“They don’t have enough dogs to supply our demand. I’ve been reaching out to some other people who work with some high kill shelters in Mississippi and North Carolina,” she said. “I’m establishing relationships with people, and I think we will continue the flow of animals. We’re just having to reach out to other people and establish transfer relationships.”
While the pandemic had initially resulted in Animal Care Sanctuary having to lay off several team members, the increase in adoptions has created a need to bring them back to support the workload.
“Everybody has really pulled together to work as a team,” Rossiter said. “As we saw things were increasing, and adoption numbers were skyrocketing, we did bring our team back on. The last couple weeks have been a little bit easier.”
Rossiter believes the pandemic will reshape how animal care and adoption is looked at.
“I think the future of animal welfare is going to change, because nationwide, we’ve seen that shelters can empty without having to euthanize,” she said. “I think the way shelters operate is going to be different in the future. I think we’re going to be more of a support system to keep animals in the homes, and decrease the number of animals in an institutional-like setting like a shelter.”
Additionally, Rossiter encouraged people to consider joining Animal Care Sanctuary’s Tail Wag Tag Along program, which allows animals to temporarily leave the shelter and reduce stress.