Pet adoptions, need for financial help increased in 2020 for Moffat County Humane Society
As Colorado residents stayed home during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Moffat County Humane Society saw a slight increase in overall adoptions as those stuck at home sought companionship with pets.
According to adoption numbers for the Humane Society and Bear Creek Animal Hospital, which partners with the Humane Society for shelter purposes, 198 pets were adopted in 2020, up from the 178 pets adopted in 2019. Through the first two months of 2021, 31 pets have been adopted, putting the shelter on pace to see a similar number of pets adopted this year.
The increase of adoptions can be chalked up to COVID-19 according to the owner of the hospital, Dr. Kelly Hepworth.
“People are looking for pets. The COVID thing has forced people not to travel very much. They are staying home, they are buying RVs, they are getting dogs and cats and that is just the trend right now. I suspect that’s going to continue until things loosen up and people start to go to Hawaii for two week,” Hepworth said. “Then they’ll spend their money in other places.”
The fact that people spent so much time exploring the outdoors around them during COVID-19, can also be attributed to the increase in pet adoptions in 2020.
“There has been an increase in campers that have been sold, RVs, four wheelers, side by sides, snow machines. People are just doing things different, they are recreating close to home. They are getting more dogs and cats, too,” Hepworth said. “So, it all kind of goes hand in hand I think.”
Though adoption numbers increased in 2020, the humane society also saw a high number of owners relinquishing their pets for various issues ranging from financial to housing challenges overall throughout 2020, according to shelter volunteer Rebecca Hilley.
““There has definitely been an increase in people that need to relinquish their animals,” Hilley said. “A lot of times we will help them financially, because it costs money to relinquish an animal. So we have seen people who are being evicted or losing their homes, they’ve lost their job and then they’re needing to relinquish their animals, so we’ve seen an increase in people needing financial help.”
While the animal hospital has not seen the same influx of animals being relinquished, Hepworth is afraid that as the world gets back to normal, they will see a spike in that regard.
“I would be more worried that when this is over or slows down, perhaps then we will see an increase in relinquished animals. When you think about it, there is a lot of people that have taken on pets that wouldn’t normally take on pets, or they’ve added more pets to the family then maybe typically they would have,” Hepworth said. “So, some of these folks aren’t necessarily people that have had dogs and cats before and so when they can start getting back to their previous lifestyle, whether that was a bunch of traveling or whatever then they might find that pets are less convenient and they might want to find them a home. ”
Aside from helping people financially when it comes to relinquishing animals, the shelter also helped people struggling pay medical bills for their pets, or to help them receive medical care for their pets. That need for financial help for owners unsurprisingly increased in 2020 as well.
“We always help people with spays and neuters, so I would say it has all increased maybe due to COVID. I think a lot of it is due to COVID from the people that I’ve talked to,” Hilley added.
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