A cat paws the bars of its kennel in the Lawrence Humane Society

Opinion columnist Savannah Glaves argues that animal adoption surges from COVID-19 may not be a good thing due to unintended consequences and encourages readers to consider long-term commitment before adopting a pet. 

Opinion

Everyone is stuck in their houses due to COVID-19. As the weeks wear on and on, people are beginning to yearn for human contact or for their annoying siblings or kids to just leave them alone.

Kansas alone has been on a stay-at-home order since March 30. It’s been almost a month since we could be in contact with more than 10 people at once and since we could be less than six feet away from people in public. As this has become a routine in our lives, many of us have found ourselves looking for a way to interact with another living being. Thus, many of us have turned to animals as an alternative.

Shelters around the country are being emptied by people adopting and fostering animals. NBC reported there has been a 70% increase  in fostering animals in New York City and Los Angeles. In total, 919 animals were adopted and 307 animals put into foster care during March in Los Angeles county alone.

My family has personally been trying to give away some kittens for the past few months, and due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have found more people contacting us about these kittens. People are looking anywhere and everywhere on the internet to find pets, whether it be from an animal shelter or some random person on Craigslist.

But what does this mean for the animals? As we see more people adopting and fostering animals, we will also see more problems arise.

One of the main concerns is what will happen to these animals during and after the pandemic ends, as many people are being both indirectly and directly affected by COVID-19 every day. When a person adopts an animal, they vow to take care of it for the rest of its life, but currently that isn’t always the case.

People are finding themselves catching COVID-19 themselves. When they catch the virus, they often are sick for at least one week. Some people are even required to be hospitalized. Unless these people have another person to take care of the animal, the animal is left to suffer alone until, and if, its owner returns. And even if there is another person to care for the animal, they are required to quarantine for two weeks after learning the person they live with has the virus. What would happen if they were unable to get the food and necessities needed to take care of the animal during this time? Many rural areas, including my own home, are not provided with the luxury of grocery delivery.

Another concern is the economy. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. currently has 22 million unemployed citizens, over half of a percent of the total U.S. population. As more and more people are losing their jobs due to the pandemic, people have little to no money to care for these animals. They may have had the money before, but now they are unable to make enough money to put food on the table for themselves, let alone another animal in the house. As people are faced with the decision between feeding themselves or the animal, they often choose themselves. Either the animal will be returned to the shelter or left to starve.

Even after this pandemic is over, animals will suffer. Everyone was stuck in their houses for months on end, and their animals were used to living like this. Once everyone returns to work, many animals will face abandonment issues, causing changes in behaviors. Not only will the animal be affected mentally, but many people will decide to return these animals to the shelter because of their change in personality.

Regardless of whether you’re suffering now or not, think before adopting an animal. These animals are living beings just like you and me, and they will be affected by your choices. Think before deciding to adopt an animal because it is a life-long commitment, not just a quarantine commitment.

Savannah Glaves is a sophomore from Easton studying East Asian languages and cultures. 

—Edited by Mitchell Osterlund