Pandemic pets face an uncertain future as COVID-19 restrictions lift


COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Although many people are thrilled to freely leave their homes again, some of their furry friends might not be as excited.

At the beginning of COVID-19, people adopted “pandemic pets” to accompany them through stay-at-home orders.

As states begin to re-open and vaccinations rates increase, what future do these pandemic pets face?

Joshua McQuien, the Marketing and Development manager at PAWS humane society, is hopeful for these furry friends.

“It showed that 1 in 5 households actually adopted a cat or dog since the beginning of COVID-19. Out of those households that adopted the pets, 90% of dogs and 84% of cats are still in the home,” McQuien said. “Our returns are average compared to previous years with a slight increase, but the increase we’re seeing is not due to the pets being adopted during the pandemic.”

Animal shelter experts initially worried that impulse adoptions would result in an increase in surrenders, but the down-time brought by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused pet owners to create deeper bonds with their animals.

McQuien noted that this bodes well for pandemic pets.

“It gave them the opportunity – since they were shut in – to bond more with the pet and the animal. The majority of people treat their pet like family,” McQuien said. “[Surrendering an animal] is like giving up a kid, and they’re not gonna give up a kid.”

Surrendered pets are prone to a variety of problems, such as separation anxiety, and abandonment issues. These problems can lead to difficulty in finding surrendered pets a permanent home. McQuien recognized that this is a hard decision for a pet-owner to make, and he has a piece of advice for anyone facing that ordeal.

“I just encourage the person to be patient with the pet. Take time, get the proper training – for the pet,” said McQuien “and for the people. And give it time, just see if it works.”

For more information on the services provided by PAWS Humane Society, visit

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