Pet adoptions on the rise during coronavirus outbreak

Perhaps the only ones happy about the COVID-19 outbreak are our pets, many of whom are getting more attention than they are used to. More and more people, it seems, are looking for companionship while spending lots of time at home.

FurKids Alpharetta pet adoption

Casey Thorn, 7, with the dog her family adopted from FurKids in Alpharetta

Pet adoptions in our area are on the rise, demonstrated by a very busy time at FurKids, an animal rescue and shelter in Alpharetta. As of Thursday morning, they've already had 29 adoptions in the month of April, well ahead of their normal pace. Many more dogs are being fostered; inside the shelter, there are 5 dogs waiting for their new homes. There are regularly more than 60 dogs in the shelter at a time.

"I'm so happy we've been able to place so many loving dogs in these great homes, and I'm ready to get out there and save some more," said FurKids founder and CEO Sam Shelton.

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Thursday morning, the Thorn family from Peachtree Corners stopped by to pick up their new dog, currently named Lettie, though that's subject to change. Kristin Thorn is a teacher in Gwinnett County, and with schools closed, plans to adopt a dog over the summer were pushed up.

"We were going to wait and come [get the dog] tomorrow afternoon so my husband could come with us, they told me that chances are, she wouldn't be here anymore," said Thorn.

Having some extra time has caused lots of people to consider adding a pet to their families. Having fewer animals available for adoption has also allowed the shelter to focus on promoting older animals, and those that might have specific requirements of their new home.

Sandra Guggenheim and her family recently adopted a dog named Milano, who had actually been adopted once before and returned to the shelter.

"Partly we're thinking, 'do we want to make such a big decision when things are so unnatural right now?'" said Guggenheim, who lives in Alpharetta. "On the other hand, we thought, 'what a great time to do it.' We're all at home, we can spend time with the dog, get him integrated into the family."

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One question on the minds of shelter staff members: when the coronavirus outbreak slows down, life starts to return to normal and people go back to work, will some people change their minds and decide to return their pets?

"It is a concern we have, that people may, in the moment think, 'it's a great idea to get a pet. Let's try this out,'" said Shelton. "I really feel people are going to have this time, they are going to connect and bond with them. I do not think we are going to see an influx of returns."

While adoptions are way up, donations are way down. FurKids had to cancel fundraisers, and their thrift store is also closed. They say, if the time isn't right to add a pet to your family, you can really help their cause by donating. If you want to make a donation, go to their website at the following link: FurKids Donation Page

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  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces


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