BROOKINGS – In 2020, the number of pet owners in the United States rose from 67% of households to an all-time high of 70%, according to the American Pet Products Association’s Annual Pet Owner Survey.
Many believed that a “pandemic pet boom” had occurred; however, data from the American Veterinary Medical Association showed that animal shelter adoptions were at their lowest level in five years, with just 2.3 million adoptions (in 2019, there were 2.7 million adoptions).
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, nearly one in five households brought a cat or dog into their home during the COVID-19 crisis.
Where did these pets come from then? Or was the “pandemic pet boom” a misconception rather than a reality?
Local dog breeders said during the pandemic they saw a significant increase in adoptions. Olivia Lefers, of Prairie Paddock Pomskies, said they have seen an increase in adoptions due to people being more at home. People thought it would be nice to have a dog because they would have time to train him, Lefers said.
Renee Axtell, of PoppyBandit Puppies, said their first litter in May 2020 was for people who were at home and wanted to stay busy. Axtell explained that a few teachers have purchased an Aussiedoodle puppy, which Axtell is raising, because they have spent a long time at home.
“(We) have never had any issues with people worried about picking up puppies with the COVID stranger,” Axtell wrote in an email to Register.
Axtell explained that they had another litter in early 2021 and the same things happened – people who were working from home and were about to have a dog thought that with the extra time at home, this would be a great time to get a dog.
“I was worried both times about the cost of the dogs, but we never had a problem getting the asking price,” Axtell said. “All of our dogs were sold within eight to nine weeks of birth.”
So while animal shelters and aid companies may not have seen an increase in adoptions, pet ownership has still seen an increase due to private breeders. Pets, as some vets have said, have provided stress relief and comfort during the very hectic times since 2020.
As Americans adjusted to the pandemic and returned to work, some feared once-necessary pets could be “returned” to animal shelters and aid companies. With some sort of “normalcy” back, maybe there just wouldn’t be any time left for our furry companions. Across the country, major outlets are reporting “overflowing shelters” and “increases in pet surrender.”
Fortunately, this was not the case at Brookings.
According to the Brookings Regional Humane Society, pet ownership in recent months has remained stable “in both the number of adoptions and the number of admissions to our shelter.”
Local vet Adam Benson, of Big Sioux Veterinary Care, says he’s also seen more people seeking veterinary care locally, another sign that pet ownership has increased.
“I think it’s a combination of an increase in adoptions / purchases of pets with people being more at home and to a lesser extent working from home more aware of some of the little issues that could have been missed when more people were spending 40 hours a week away from home, ”Benson wrote in an email to Register.
The Brookings Regional Humane Society has seen fewer animals returned to their shelters, a change from previous years. This is due to her dating adoption hours, which have worked well in finding the right person for the right household.
With the increase in the number of pet owners nationwide, it has been difficult to schedule vet appointments. Benson said his colleagues in the big cities were really full.
“Nationally, the veterinary industry is flirting with a crisis to meet the workload in a timely manner,” Benson wrote. “The wait times measured in some emergency practices in densely populated areas are routinely measured in hours and unfortunately there does not appear to be much light at the end of this tunnel. “
At Brookings, however, such a crisis does not exist. Benson said his practice has enough staff and doctors to keep up with the growing demands. At the Sutton Veterinary Clinic, there are extended wait times for appointments, but it depends on the appointment required. Some types of appointments can be on the same day and some have to wait a few days, a clinic spokesperson said.
Benson said his firm makes a point of reserving spaces in the sick / emergency visit schedule to meet the need for same-day appointments.
“Unfortunately, that means sometimes we have to schedule routine things like wellness appointments and vaccines for a day or two,” Benson wrote.
Now that most Americans have returned to work and ‘remote’ options are starting to wear off, local breeders have said the ‘boom’ has slowed down considerably, but the Brookings’ dogs and cats Humane Society and local ranchers are still looking for a home.
Contact Addison DeHaven at [email protected]