Almost exactly one year ago, the world turned upside down and so many of us began to work from home, isolate, and live in a way we were never prepared for because of COVID-19. Almost the same day as New York was ordered to stay at home, foster and adoption applications skyrocketed–at Bideawee and at shelters all across the country–and ever since, the demand for puppies, kittens, dogs and cats has been impossible to keep up with. It’s been one of the silver linings of an incredibly difficult time.
It’s hard to believe, but approximately 12.6 million households took in pets between March and December, according to the American Pet Products Association. I know this comes as no surprise to the team here at Bideawee, because it often felt like that many people were sending in applications the moment puppies became available for adoption.
An increase in adoptions is a wonderful thing and we all love puppies, but as those of us in animal welfare are keenly aware of, untrained and unsocialized puppies can grow up to be naughty, destructive adolescent and adult dogs without the proper training. If that happens, there is an increased likelihood that they will be relinquished to animal shelters, which negatively impacts the animals, the shelters, and the adopters. Therefore, when we hear that so many people have gotten what we deem “COVID Puppies”, we are happy for the puppies and the family, but also a little wary for what the future holds.
How many of these puppies are getting the proper training they need? How many people feel incapable of training or socializing their dogs when they are barely leaving their homes and trying to follow social distancing protocols? How many dogs will have separation anxiety when their family does have to leave the house because they never learned to be alone? And how many cute puppies will go from innocently chewing on a slipper to exhibiting destructive and potentially dangerous behaviors?
With so many animals going into homes in a condensed amount of time, the demand for dog training has soared, and most trainers are having a hard time keeping up with the amount of people looking for professional help. There is also the problem of cost, and with demand surging, prices are sure to go up.
So, what can WE do? First of all, Bideawee is always there for our fosters and adopters. Our team works hard to provide advice, tips, and behavior plans that will help in the home and prevent owner surrenders. Our behaviorist and team are always here to advise on the best course of action to keep your pets and families safe and happy. But understanding the magnitude of potential problems coming down the pike, we felt a responsibility to be even more proactive, both for our adopters, and the community-at-large. We wanted to further our mission and ensure that we were standing by our three pillars of Problem Solving, Prevention and the Human Animal Bond by anticipating future challenges, helping to prevent them, and fostering even better relationships between pets and the people who love them.
And so, later this month, Bideawee will be announcing a very exciting partnership aimed at providing low-cost training to help prevent behavior-related animal surrenders to shelters, and help get families off to the right start by teaching basic manners to their four-legged loved ones. We are all incredibly excited to expand our programs to ensure that we are doing everything we can to rescue dogs and cats, place them in loving homes, and provide pets and adopters with the tools, resources and support they need to ensure happy, healthy, lifelong relationships. Stay tuned for more on information about this new initiative!