When COVID-19 first prompted a quarantine last March, forcing everyone indoors, local pet experts and animal-adoption professionals reported that business was booming.
However, that pace seems to have slowed somewhat. Some say pet adoptions have returned to regular levels, while others seem to see their adoptions continuing to stay elevated.
At least one nearby nonprofit saw animal adoptions slow with respect to where they were during the pandemic, according to the Best Friends Animal Society of Los Angeles, a Mission Hills-based pet adoption organization whose clientele mainly comes from the Santa Clarita Valley.
From March to May 2019, Best Friends Animal Society said they took in 270 dogs and adopted out 313; during of the same period in 2020, they took in 91 dogs and adopted out 128.
However, when looking at trends for this year, they say they have, apples to apples, seen a slight decrease even when compared to their pre-COVID-19 numbers.
“Intake, especially for dogs, is still fairly low compared to pre-COVD levels so there isn’t as much of an ‘inventory,’” said Michelle Sathe, public relations manager for Best Friends Animal Society. “So there’s less dogs to choose from.”
Sathe said the most difficult problem they’ve found, with respect to animal adoptions, has been with kittens. According to her, the Best Friends Animal Society brings in roughly 3,000 kittens a year, and because of the large quantity and availability of these young animals, shelters have been slowly overrun with the tiny felines.
“Our whole goal is to get them up to the two-pound mark so we can fix them and put them up for adoption, and we have been successful in doing that,” said Sathe. “But kitten adoptions have actually slowed a little bit more than usual, and I think that’s just because the shelters are inundated with kittens.”
Sheila Aragon, founder of Mutt Match L.A., whose mailing address is listed in Canyon Country but who works primarily out of Palmdale, said they have Santa Clarita people coming every week to adopt animals. Their shelter, she said, has seen a tapering off from the record-breaking year many shelters experienced as people looked for furry friends while trapped indoors, but said her adoptions continue to show strong results.
“I mean, we literally had 100 applications for one dog, which is insane … we always get multiple applications for dogs, (but) not like that,” said Aragon, when describing what was occurring during the beginning of the pandemic. “This year has not been as busy, but certainly still busy enough.”
Both Aragon and Sathe shared that the summer, regardless of a pandemic, is usually a slow season for adoptions. People wanting to travel and take advantage of summer holidays generally cuts into their adoption numbers.
However, Sathe credited the declining number of adoptions, in part, to people returning to work and school for the first time in a while. She also discussed what she saw as a problem coming up in the news as of late: returns.
“It’s not necessarily that (grown) dogs have been adopted and are being returned, it’s that there’s a lot of young dogs (puppies) that were acquired over the pandemic and are being returned by their owners,” said Sathe, adding that people realized the amount of work and energy it takes to raise a dog from a puppy age, and began to turn back on their original decision.
One way Sathe said they had countered the returns issue is that, while the pandemic did slow their process increasingly, as people could no longer do same day visit-adoption processes, it did give their counselors at Mutt Match more time to meet speak with the people over Zoom or the phone, and figure out the right dog for them.
“They see a cute dog or a puppy and then the puppy grows to 60 pounds, and they won’t be prepared for that,” said Sathe. “You have to get your emotions out of the way and think realistically about what the dog requires.”
In terms of kittens, L.A. County Animal Care and Control, in collaboration with the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), recently launched a “Got Kittens?” campaign to help community members determine whether a stray kitten is in need and assist in making informed decisions to provide solutions that support these animals’ ultimate well-being.
For more information about kitten adoption, visit the DACC website: animalcare.lacounty.gov/got-kittens. The Castaic Animal Care Center is located at 31044 Charlie Canyon Road, Castaic. Best Friends is located at 15321 S. Brand Blvd.