Annamarie Koch took an old English bulldog into her Ansonia home this spring.
“My husband is an essential worker, so he was never home and I was home all the time,” she said. “I was lonely.”
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But she’s not alone in seeking companionship from a new pet.
As many people stayed home to flatten the coronavirus infection curve, in some cases cut off from friends and family, they started to look for companionship in different ways. In effect, human sheltering in place has meant fewer animals in shelters.
In Shelton, Rich Stabile’s classes were moved online. He and his wife, Melissa, had already adopted a greyhound. When they heard there were more looking for a home after the racetracks closed, he decided to foster Lily.
“We were fostering her for a while, and she just fits in so well -- so charming we couldn’t get rid of her,” said Stabile.
Jennifer Glatz of Berlin said adopting her puppy, which is part mastiff, American pit bull and Lab, was the best choice she and her mom made this year.
“When you can stay home all day, it’s easier to train,” said Glatz. “It was an opportune time.”
Ellen Emerson of the Pet Animal Welfare Society in Norwalk said the shelter was forced to reduce its capacity to limit the amount of staff coming in during the height of the pandemic. Still, they’ve had more adoptions than last year.
“It has been crazy busy,” said Emerson. “Even during the worst of the pandemic times we had 12 cats here from over 100 in a very, very short amount of time.”
James Bias, executive director of the Connecticut Humane Society, says their adoption numbers are actually down because of their reduced capacity, but he’s observed another positive pandemic effect.
“The good news is there are fewer animals being surrendered into shelters and more being adopted, so the net across the country is fewer animals are being euthanized right now,” said Bias.
He said they also don’t expect many of the adopted animals to be returned.
“People have had a longer time to connect and strengthen the bond with their pets,” said Bias. “I don't anticipate a spike up, but we are going to prepare for it just in case.”
Emerson admitted this isn’t an ideal time for every pet owner. The Norwalk shelter has also taken in animals surrendered because their owners lost their jobs or homes due to the pandemic.