New Addition to the Family: A Pandemic Journey


Tabitha Lee

Ash went home with Cardinal Times’ Tabitha Lee following the COVID-19 upward trend in pet adoptions.

As another bored person eleven months into the pandemic, I wanted something new to do. Unable to leave the house, I chose something that’s become even more popular during 2020: online shopping.

However, I was shopping not for clothes or toys, but a dog. I went through PetFinder for hours on end, finding dogs like Franklin, who lost the use of his back legs and couldn’t urinate independently, or Greta, who had a big smile but whose profile was removed from the site after a day. 

After a few days of searching, I realized there was a pattern. Any dog that didn’t have a bite history, special needs or wasn’t bonded to another dog was scooped up within hours. 

I would try to talk to my parents about a certain dog, but as soon as we were ready to sit down and have a conversation, the animal would be gone. I looked at several application forms online and most of them had one thing in common: an urgent message saying, “PLEASE ONLY APPLY IF YOU ARE READY TO MEET AND ADOPT TODAY!” 

People were only encouraged to apply if they could commit to a fast, sometimes even same-day adoption, and I wasn’t sure if my family was ready to do so. 

It was clear that I wasn’t alone in my dog fever. After some quick research, I learned that Last Chance shelter, located in Battle Ground, Washington, saw a 30–40% increase in dog adoptions from 2019 to 2020.

I also contacted the Oregon Humane Society, and Customer Care Manager Eleena Fikhman said there has been a large increase in pet adoptions.

“In an average year we see around 23,000 visitors coming to the shelter for meet and greets. Since March 2020, we have received more than 80,000 applications for pets,” Fikhman said. 

Fikhman explained that this was not only the case in Oregon, but all around the U.S.

 “Adoptions have increased on a national level. I believe this is due to people now being at home more, having more time for their pets and not having a social outlet like they did prior to the pandemic,” she said.

Chrystal Carver fosters pets at her home for Oregon Friends of Shelter Animals before they get adopted. In an interview with Carver, she observed that while the pandemic has created an increase in people wanting new animals, it has brought animals back into the adoption system as well

“Not only have we seen an increase in demand for pets, but we’ve also seen an increase in animals being surrendered. I think with the economy and people losing jobs a lot of people had to surrender their pets because they couldn’t continue to care for them,” Chrystal said.

My family and I ended up being able to find a dog and after a few days sent in an application. We then learned that there were several applications for the dog, but that we were the best fit. After our meet-and-greet we were encouraged to fill out the adoption papers that same day. We took Ash home last week and I’m happy to say that he’s adjusting nicely. If anyone has the ability to care for a special needs pet, Franklin is still available!