Animal shelters busy as people seek quarantine buddies

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SNU senior Maea Wistrom poses with her quarantine buddy “Kurtis,” a tortoise. Photo Courtesy: Maea Wistrom

Malia Kellerman, Editor

Adoption centers across the country are experiencing something peculiar – they’re running out of animals. As the need for animal companions skyrockets during the covid-19 pandemic, more people are fostering and adopting animals in need of homes.

Pet Network in Incline Village is a part of the SPCA and it is also experiencing increased levels of business like never before.

“We are so much busier than we’ve ever been!” said Natalie Parish, director of development and outreach at Pet Network. “We’ve had over 25 adoptions and 38 fosters since this started. We’re a very small shelter, so those numbers are huge for us.”

The number of foster animals has increased the most, said Parish. Fostering is a form of temporary adoption. People can foster for as long as they want – and most end up adopting after they become attached to their animal.

Pet Network has been increasing its adoption rates each month over the past few months anyway, but it has noticed a significant increase since the pandemic hit.

Heidi Peinthor, SNU alumni and admissions counselor, recently became a new mom to Cash, a 9-week-old heeler-lab mix. Although Peinthor didn’t adopt from a shelter, her friend bred puppies and was able to snatch one up during the popular demand.

“I’ve always wanted to adopt a puppy, and with more time on my hands I figured now would be better than ever,” said Peinthor. “Cash has brought a sense of routine back into my home, and he’s part lab so he can sense emotions while providing comfort through these difficult times.”

With social distancing, it’s hard for humans to get comfort from those around us through phone calls and Zoom meetings. This might be why many have resorted to pet adoption.

SNU junior, Kara Campbell and her golden retriever Gnarly – or Gnar for short – have been spending every second together.

“He’s the only thing that keeps me sane,” said Campbell. “Gnar is a little bundle of joy during these hard times. We’ve been going backcountry skiing, hiking, and cuddling. I take him everywhere with me.”

But it’s not just puppies, other animals can provide comfort and emotional support – even a tortoise.

SNU senior Maea Wistrom and her tortoise Kurtis have been kicking it for a few months now. She got him before all the madness, but she’s reminded each day how thankful she is to have a little quarantine buddy too.

“Kurtis and I have been spending much more time together.” Wistrom said. “If I didn’t have him around, I would be super bored and probably lonely, even though he’s just a little tortoise.”

Accounts of shelters around the country have caught the eyes of many as people spend more time online. Headlines pop up from around the country of shelters becoming so busy that they run out of adoptable animals – if there’s ever a time to have a new addition to the family it might be now.

“All I know is, I’m so thankful to have a quarantine buddy with me,” said Peinthor. “If there’s someone out there thinking about adopting I highly recommend it, Cash has been the biggest blessing.”