Pandemic Pups Are Now Filling the Shelters

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
Photo credit: MDV Edwards/

COVID struck and suddenly we all worked from home. Cars stayed parked, food delivery spiked, and because we all wanted something to do in our downtime, adopting pets went through the roof. Remember that craze? Purebreds were selling for triple their original price tag, shelters were emptied, and mills were churning out pups like a vehicle assembly line.

Fast forward and those cute, cuddly companions have proven to be a little more work than many newbies expected. I mean, pups born during the pandemic have never known life without their pet parent being fully present and accounted for. And we’re talking all, day long.

Further, with certain breeds – thinking Labrador Retrievers, Jack Russell Terriers, and Toy Poodles – where separation anxiety is their go-to state of mind whenever left alone, the challenge can be even more daunting. Destructive behaviors such as chewing, barking and indiscriminate pooping around the house can become the new “welcome home” that, over time, wears thin.

In Ontario, Canada, one shelter is appealing to the public to simply help cover the cost of feeding the volume of animals now filling their kennels. According to Lisa Bennett of the Oakville Milton Humane Society, “Most of the dogs we have in our care right now are COVID dogs.” And, at other animal rescue sites, what used to be a waitlist for adoption is now becoming a waitlist to surrender the pet. The story repeats itself throughout North America, where shelters are bursting at the seams as they desperately try to rehome pets that have been raised outside of a mainstream environment and are therefore never fully trained or socialized.

Now not all surrenders are down to new owners returning to work and no longer having the time to care for/train their pets.  Job loss, relocations, or diminished incomes due to imposed restrictions have added to the need to re-home a much-loved pet.

But for pooches born during lockdown and thriving in a cloistered household, having to leave their family and then adapt to new faces and different living environments post-COVID, can be a serious challenge. While socialization is critical for new pups, a mature dog is never too old to learn new tricks.

If you want to adopt-not-shop but feel a tad uncertain whether you’re ready to take on an emotionally challenged Pandemic Pup, you’ll want to check out our When to Start Training a Rescue Dog. Armed with some high-value treats and loads of patience, you’ll find that socializing your new pet and teaching him the basic commands is a great way to bond and start building a lifetime of great memories for you both.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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