During COVID-19, adopting a furry friend has been popular as more people work remotely and have fewer reasons to leave the house. But what will happen to these pandemic pets when day-to-day life returns to some form of normalcy? The experts want you to start thinking about that now.

David Harding, co-founder of Freedom Dog Rescue, a non-profit dog rescue organization in Ottawa, says demands has more than quadrupled since the onset of the pandemic. 

“Demand has definitely increased … Prior to March 2020 we would typically see about 15 applicants per dog. Once the COVID-19 measures came into place we have seen many instances of more than 70 applicants per dog.”

At the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), public relations director Sarah McDowell says there has been a significant increase in demand for puppies, with unusually long wait lists for adoptions. The CKC represents breeders of 175 different types of dogs, and estimates that interest in dog adoptions through the CKC has increased by 40 per cent. 

“The pandemic has been a very stressful time for many families. Some find stress relief and comfort in the companionship of a pet,” says Harding. “Dogs lift our spirits and provide a constant stream of unconditional love. They have always played a very important role in peoples’ lives but even more so by bringing comfort in times of uncertainty.”

But the experts caution that adopting a pet shouldn’t be a way to fill a void only during the pandemic. 

“We understand that many people seek the comfort and companionship of a family dog during the pandemic but we remind puppy buyers that puppy ownership is a long-term commitment of 10 to 15 years,” said McDowell. 

Picture of two kittens sitting beside each other.
Emily Wood adopted these two kittens during the pandemic. [Photo © Maddy Kylie]

Emily Wood, 20, adopted two kittens in August. She says she bought them because school is online, so she will be home to take care of them. 

She said since cats are very independent, she isn’t worried about being able to take care of them once in-person school resumes. 

“All the heavy lifting will be done once the pandemic is over.”

She did note, however, that she has friends who have adopted pets during the pandemic and she is a little concerned about whether they will be able to take care of them post-pandemic. 

“I think some people really didn’t think about how they will take care of their pet after the pandemic,” said Wood.

Emily Wood discusses why she adopted two kittens amid the pandemic.

McDowell warns potential pet owners to really think through the logistics before bringing a new companion into their lives. 

Those who have adopted a pet during the pandemic should also be thinking long-term and consider what accommodations must be made post-pandemic, noted Harding. 

“Once people return to their busy life, it is very important to accommodate their new extended family. In order to ensure that your new dog is getting the care that they deserve they may want to consider doggie daycares or play dates with friends and their dogs. It would also be helpful to start getting the dog used to the new schedule weeks in advance.”