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Dog adoptions increased in San Antonio during the pandemic, following U.S. trend 

click to enlarge Labrador Retriever mix Aristotle is one of the dogs available for adoption. - COURTESY / ANIMAL DEFENSE LEAGUE OF TEXAS
  • Courtesy / Animal Defense League of Texas
  • Labrador Retriever mix Aristotle is one of the dogs available for adoption.
San Antonio no-kill shelter the Animal Defense League of Texas experienced a 17% increase in dog adoptions last year, mirroring a trend shown in national studies on pet adoptions during the pandemic.

As people grew lonely due to stay-at-home orders, they sought out pets for a sense of companionship, according to ADL Marketing Manager Michelle Thorson.

"It was definitely a silver lining that I don't know we were necessarily expecting, but it was great to see," she said. "We had some programs that had to be temporarily suspended, and there's definitely some income loss. But this was kind of a silver lining to see that we were able to save more lives of animals in need."

ADL's adoption increase follows a nationwide trend, according to studies by Rover, a network for pet sitters and dog walkers. In January, Rover researchers reported that 49% of Americans adopted a "pandemic puppy" during the crisis.

In a more recent survey, Rover found that 41% of people who adopted an animal during the pandemic did so for emotional support and happiness, while 39% adopted to have something positive in their lives. In addition, 13% of those who adopted were first-time pet owners.

"What's great about this past year is that we were really able to get the word out and expand the services that we're able to provide," ADL's Thorson said. 

Thorson added that the increase in dog adoptions helped her organization's EmBARK Foster Program, which enables people to foster adult animals waiting for permanent homes.

"When these pets are in that home, they're are able to get some additional socialization skills," Thomson said. "It just kind of gives them a break from the shelter, so it's definitely mutually beneficial between both the human getting the companionship and the animal, whenever they do return."

As more Americans get vaccinated and return to in-person work, both pet owners and pets may feel separation anxiety. According to Rover's data, 40% of new pet owners felt anxious about leaving their pet at home and returning to in-person work.

"We just really try and educate the adopters and give them the right tools to ensure that it is continuing to be successful once they do go back to their normal work life," Thorson said of that anxiety.

Through the end of the month, ADL is hosting its April Adopt-A-Thon. During the event, it waives adoption fees for dogs over six months old. Information on adoptions can be found on the organization's website.

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