Cape Fear sees increase in “pandemic pets” returned to animal shelters

NEW HANOVER COUNTY (WWAY) — Early on in the pandemic, pet adoption rates skyrocketed. Now, across the US and even here in the Cape Fear, pandemic pets are getting returned to shelters weekly.

“We hardly can rescue any new animals because all we’re doing is getting returns,” said Jill Jones, an Adopt an Angel board member.

Adopt an Angel and New Hanover Sheriff’s Office Animal Services Unit have seeing dozens of cats and dogs returned to shelters since the beginning of the year.

“Just recently, we had six dogs returned in two days,” said Officer Stephen Watson with animal services.
“Since January, we’ve had very few adoptions at all. And the ones we adopt out keep coming back,” Jones explained.

Watson says that’s because toward the beginning of the pandemic, some people adopted animals for company without knowing or being prepared for the responsibility.

“As things have opened up, they’re reconsidering because they’re not 100 percent committed to the animal in the first place,” Watson continued.

The pandemic affected animals in a variety of different ways, according to Jones. Many of the animals recently returned haven’t been properly socialized because of quarantine. This makes them skittish, afraid of humans and new situations.

“People lost jobs. People were moving and couldn’t find places for them,” Jones continued. “Which are kind of all because of the pandemic. And a lot of new babies. We have an influx of animals coming back because people have had babies.”

Before adopting, Watson said it’s important to make sure you’re ready for the responsibility of loving and taking care of a living thing. Look at your finances, make sure your lifestyle can accommodate an animal, and pick your breed carefully.

“If you are a couch potato, you don’t want a jack russell. If you’re a runner, you may not want a basset hound.”

Watson says to always remember the three 3’s:

  • Give your new animal three days to decompress and get used to their new home.
  • Give them three weeks to learn their new routine.
  • Give them three months to feel fully at home.
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