Voice of the unheard, how the pandemic affects man best friend


It’s 2021, yet the pandemic is still going on intensely worldwide; the new strain of the virus and the lack of a sufficient amount of vaccine is what prevents the world from going back to its normal state. During social distancing, most of us are inside, away from the world and the usual way of life. In some cases, our only companions are our pets. They play, eat, sleep, and live with us, but we never really know what they are feeling. The pandemic has certainly had many adverse effects on us, but what about our pets? To better understand this issue, we have with us today Kimberly LaRussa, head of media at SPCA Niagara County, Niagara Falls, New York. 

Kimberly LaRussa(Twitter Picture)
Kimberly LaRussa(Twitter Picture)

Has the adoption rate changed for the better or worst since the start of this pandemic?

It’s funny you ask that because we get that question a lot! On paper, adoption rates were lower in 2020 than in 2019, but that’s because we had fewer stray and surrenders came to our shelter in 2020. Hence, the number of animals available for adoption was lower during the pandemic, which could be attributed to people being home more with their pets. Overall, we had many successful adoptions utilizing our social media platforms to showcase our animals, including a shelter dog named Joey, who had been with us for more than 500 days! He went home with his forever family this summer, and we held a goodbye ceremony for him that was beautiful.

Niagara County-Rescued Dog

Niagara County-Rescued Dog

How have social distancing guidelines affected the adoption process?

When the pandemic first hit, we moved all adoptions to curbside adoptions, which meant potential adopters had to make an appointment to meet a specific animal and preapproval for adoption was handled over the phone. Once the adopter was approved and put in our system, they would then meet the shelter dog outside of the shelter at a scheduled day and time. This worked out really well and made us repeat appointments to meet shelter dogs was most efficient, and we’ve continued that same process indoors now that we were able to reopen to the public. We limit how many patrons can come into the shelter at a time, and they can view the dogs in their kennels but still need an appointment to meet them in person for potential adoption. Appointments are not required to meet cats.”


A police officer who adopted the puppy he helped rescue from abuse.(Image Courtesy: Kimberly LaRussa)
A police officer who adopted the puppy he helped rescue from abuse.(Image Courtesy: Kimberly LaRussa)

On what level do you think having a pet helps their owner from feeling anxiety and stress while quarantining?

It’s been said that dogs can lower your blood pressure, release happy hormones and reduce stress. Cats also make excellent emotional support animals, which I think is why so many people realized they needed an animal in their lives during the pandemic. However, animals are a lifelong commitment, so we always want adopters to be mindful of that before adopting. Our situations may be temporary but owning an animal is forever.

How hard is the effect of this pandemic on pet’s health and well-being ( both psychological and physical)

 Animals can sense when their owners are exhibiting stress and that can take a toll on them. Still, if anyone struggles with their pet during the pandemic, whether that be providing shelter, food or medical care, we encourage you to call us for help. There are so many wonderful people and organizations that will assist, especially during these times.

For more info: https://www.niagaraspca.org/contact

George Tran


This story is authored by George Tran, Content Writer, Onside Media, Toronto, Canada.  If you have stories to share kindly email: – georgetran.onside@gmail.com


SOURCESweet Buffalo