Pets Adopted During Pandemic Are Being Returned to Shelters in Record Numbers. Here’s How You Can Help

A sad new trend across the country has pet owners returning the pets adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As people get vaccinated and readjust to leaving home for work and school, shelters across the United States are seeing higher than average rates of returns, the BBC reports.   Some dogs are showing signs of separation anxiety which can lead to unwanted behavior.  The Virginia Beach SPCA is asking residents to begin working with their pets now to ease separation anxiety.

“While some of their behaviors due to their anxiety may frustrate you, it is important to seek solutions instead of punishing them. Consult with your veterinarian if you feel you need help. There are medications and supplements that can help severe cases of separation anxiety. You can also reach out to a qualified trainer who can provide expert advice specific to your pet.”

Get tips on how to help your pet cope here.


More ways you can help pets in need.

Become a Foster Home for a Homeless Animal

Foster families provide hundreds of shelter animals the extra attention and time in a home that they need to recover from illness or injury, have a break from the shelter, or in the case of kittens, the time required to reach that 2-month mark and be ready for adoption.

While you’re out shopping for your pet, shop for a pet at a local shelter.

Needed shelter items at Norfolk Animal Care Center include:

  • Canned/dry food and treats for cats and dogs
  • Liquid formula such as KMR and Esbilac for kittens and puppies
  • New and gently used collars, harnesses and leashes, including slip leads (all sizes)
  • Washable, durable pet toys (cat and dog), stuffed animals, catnip, tennis balls, “Kong” Toys, and Peanut Butter
  • Kiddie pools (for summertime wading)
  • Treat dispensing toys
  • Stainless steel dishes and bowls (tip-proof, any size)
  • New or gently used carriers, crates, and exercise pens
  • New and gently used dog houses
  • Dog and cat nail clippers
  • Newspapers for lining cages
  • Paper towels
  • Blankets, comforters, towels (no sheets)
  • Fencing Assistance Program materials: This program helps to get dogs off tethers and keep families together.
    • New and gently used fencing materials
    • Tools (hammers, utility tools, power tools, shovels, nails, screws etc.)

Get Involved, Volunteer

For many animals, the next chapter in their life is a direct result of the contributions of our volunteers. Volunteering is not only rewarding, it’s a great way of giving back to the animals who give so much to us. This also includes:
  • Increased satisfaction from making a difference in the lives of homeless (shelter) animals.
  • Strong ties to our community of fellow animal lovers.
  • Deeper understanding of animal care and behavior.
  • Reduced stress levels for volunteers and shelter animals alike.

Take a dog out on a “Pack Adventure” for the day

 Area shelters like Norfolk Animal Care Center and Peninsula Regional Animal Shelter offer volunteers the ability to take a dog out of the shelter for the day to visit a park, go to the beach, take a car ride…etc.  The activity helps shelter animals take a break from the shelter life and gives you an opportunity to get to know their behavior to help them find a home.

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