SPRINGFIELD — COVID-19 has spread more than heartache and sickness across the land. Pet adoptions have increased since the start of the pandemic.
A recent TD Ameritrade survey found that 33 percent of Americans have considered fostering or adopting an animal since social distancing became the norm. Across generations, the highest rate is for millenials, who came in at 50 percent.
Effingham County Animal Shelter Director Lorna Shelton said the number of adoptions has remained steady at her facility.
“Prior to COVID-19, we would have animals that would stay here for quite some time,” she said. “Now, nothing has been staying. It has been quite nice.”
Shelton said cats have been leaving the shelter at a higher rate than dogs since June.
“We had a lot of kittens in here at that time,” she said.
Several guinea pigs and hamsters kept briefly at the shelter also have new homes.
“It’s good news for a change,” Shelton said, “but I am a little leery about how it will be when everybody gets back to work and stuff. Will it turn around and people say, ‘Oh, I don’t have time for (a pet) now?’ I’m kind of pessimistic when it comes to that.”
The shelter has adopted new hours and new adoption methods because of the pandemic.
“We did everything virtually and met people in the parking lot (to hand over animals) when we were closed (in March),” Shelton said. “When we started to open a little more, we did everything virtual where we put videos on our Facebook page and, of course, you can find our stuff at ecas.petfinder.com. We would encourage people to go look at that and they would just call us to discuss stuff with them.
“The down side to that is that they couldn’t do a meet-and-greet. They had to take the animal as is. Fortunately, that worked out for everyone.”
Currently, prospective pet owners can schedule appointments to meet animals they are interested in adopting. The phone number is 912-754-2109.
“It’s one family in the shelter at a time,” Shelton said. “That has been working pretty well.”
The shelter has staff on hand to answer calls from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Appointments can be made to visit animals from only 1-4 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays because the animals undergo veterinary checks those days.
Cats and dogs can be adopted for $60 and $75, respectively. All are spayed or neutered before they leave the shelter.
Occasionally, grants are available to assist with adoption costs.