Fostering or Adopting a New Pet During the Coronavirus

by | Apr 23, 2020

Social media feeds are full of happy pictures of shelters cleared or nearly empty as a result of fostering and adopting surging during the coronavirus. Hopeful fosters and adopters ask rescue groups if they have any dogs, puppies, cats, or kittens to foster and put themselves on waitlists for their desired pet.

A typical rescue in the San Francisco Bay Area warns potential fosters and adopters that they are “experiencing a high volume of email and applications”  and are slower than usual to respond as a consequence. Some cities around the San Francisco Bay Area have even seen shelters empty.

Why have Adoption and Fostering Surged?

We are stressed, anxious, and bored. Pets are a much-needed distraction. A dog or cat gives us something to think about besides the virus or how we’re missing something that we were looking forward to.

Besides, what better time to get a pet than when we are home most of the time?

Here is what you need to know about bringing a new pet into your family during the coronavirus quarantine.

Picking a Pet

Highly Desirable Rescues are a Hot Commodity

If you are hoping to foster or adopt a puppy, kitten, small dog or purebred, you may have a challenge ahead of you. You may also not have the opportunity to foster these sorts of pets. Your only choice may be to make the decision to adopt, sometimes with a brief trial period.

As it is, such animals are a hot commodity among the rescue community. Now that transport has slowed or stopped and fostering and adopting have surged, you can expect it to be even harder

Loving the Bully, the Big, the Black, and the Brindle

Other pets still have a hard time finding a foster or adoptive home, even as the coronavirus clears the shelters. Adult cats and adult large mixed breed dogs, especially bully breed mixes, are not nearly as desirable to rescues, transport groups, or adopters.

Black animals, dogs and cats, have an especially hard time attracting attention, and brindle dogs often find it more difficult to get homes as well. If you ask for an animal to foster at your local shelter, there is a good chance that the dogs you will meet are large mixed breed bully type dogs, often black or brindle and there will usually be only adult cats.

There are usually fewer restrictions on how long you can foster these animals before making the decision to adopt and you can find a truly amazing pet for a temporary or permanent time by picking from the animals that most people don’t want.

Special Needs

Spring means kitten season. Litters of kittens that are abandoned or found with their mother need to be fostered until they are old enough to adopt. Whether you’re up to taking on bottle babies or want to foster older kittens for a few weeks until they’re ready to be adopted, raising a litter of kittens can be a wonderful activity for your family and a great way to find a new cat.

Animals that have medical conditions, injuries, or are old are all in need of special foster or adoptive homes. Looking past a disability to take on a dog or cat with lots of love to give can be a great way to give a home to a wonderful pet.

How to Foster or Adopt During the Coronavirus

Throughout the nation, most shelters and rescues are still open for adoption and fostering on an appointment-only basis. In the San Francisco Bay Area rescues like the Rocket Dog Rescue are performing adoptions and even meet and greets virtually. When they do have in person meetings, they utilize social distancing.

In Las Vegas, the Animal Foundation is open by appointment only and practicing social distancing. If you are in Las Vegas, you can find an amazing pet to foster or adopt by looking through the available pets and then making an appointment to meet them.

Bringing Home Your Foster or Adopted Pet

Once you have chosen a pet and met them, you will surely be very excited to bring them home. However, you may be disappointed to find that your new coronavirus buddy isn’t very interested in hanging out.

Both dogs and cats tend to sleep a lot when they are brought home from the shelter. Cats especially may seek out places to hide like under your bed or in the closet. Give your pet time to relax and acclimate and don’t bother them until they actively seek out your affection.

Safety First

It is essential that you put safety first as you acclimate your new pet to your household. If you have pets or children, you should keep them separated from the new pet using a baby gate or some other means that allows them to see and smell each other but not actually interact until you can get a sense of how their interactions will play out.


Sometimes shelter animals have received little training and other times they were beloved family pets. Some have histories of neglect or abuse. As you are getting to know your new dog or cat, it’s a good idea to always have tasty treats available to reward desirable behaviors and distract from negative behaviors.

It is important that you are consistent about training from the very beginning to set your new pet up for success and avoid confusion about what is and is not allowed.

Foster or Adopt a Pet

Fostering or adopting is an amazing thing to do for an animal and for your family. However, fostering can have challenges. In some ways, it may be even more difficult during a time of social distancing.

If you are willing to consider some of the less desirable pets, you may find an amazing new friend and you could really save a life. Regardless of what animal you choose to foster or adopt, take it slow, play it safe, and have fun.


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