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While many of us have been busy stocking up on canned goods, frozen pizzas and—apparently—toilet paper, we’ve been forgetting to think about some of our most vulnerable friends: pets and shelter animals. Whether you have a pet who’s suddenly thrilled that you’re home all day, or you’re someone who just wants to make sure that all animals are taken care of during the COVID-19 outbreak, there are plenty of things you can do to protect your furry friends. Figuring out how to help animals during Coronavirus might not have been your first thought when you were told to start social distancing, but animals are now more vulnerable than ever, so it’s up to us to do our part. While according to the Humane Society pets can’t contract the virus, they can still be affected by these trying times in other ways.
One of the most vulnerable groups of animals are those that live in shelters. The government has shut down most non-essential businesses and encouraged people to stay inside, which has, in turn, left many shelters struggling. Luckily, according to Sarah Brasky, Founder and Director of Foster Dogs Inc., people have been stepping up to make sure these shelter animals aren’t forgotten: “So far this month, we’ve seen a 1,000% increase in applications to foster,” she tells STYLECASTER. “We are floored by the outpouring from the New York City community to foster a dog during this difficult and stressful time,” she says. Making sure animals have a loving home—if even for just a little while—is an important way to help keep dogs and other fuzzy pals safe.
Plus, in times that feel borderline hopeless, doing your part to help others can really lift your spirits. “People are experiencing heartache, stress, financial hardship, illness, and disappointment,” says Brasky, “so it’s important to shift our energy to something positive, for our own ability to get through this awful period.” Of course, fostering a dog isn’t the only thing you can do to make sure animals (both in shelters and in your own home) can ride out this crisis with ease. Below, you’ll find five ways to help pets and shelter animals during COVID-19. Whether you’re ready to bring an animal into your home or not, there are plenty of things you can do to help. And at the end of the day, we all could use a few cuddles.
1. Become a Foster (Pet) Parent
There’s no denying that having a furry friend around can immediately lift even the worst of moods, which is why they can be an important asset to one’s mental health. If you’re not ready to adopt, help a shelter out and foster an animal temporarily during this time. “People are experiencing heartache, stress, financial hardship, illness, and disappointment. So it’s important to shift our energy to something positive, for our own ability to get through this awful period,” says Brasky. “Fostering a dog while you’re working from home, cooped up, is the ultimate win for that shelter animal, and allows you a companion and opportunity to de-stress.”
2. Stock Up on Supplies
Now, for the pets you already have and love. The Humane Society recommends having “…crates, food and extra supplies on hand for movement and relocation of pets if necessary.” You should make sure you and your pet are set for any emergency situation. Stockpiling some extra food and supplies for you furry friends is just as important as making sure you have emergency goods for yourself.
3. Help Transport Foster Animals
If you can’t foster an animal yourself during this time, Foster Dogs Inc. suggests helping transport foster pets from the shelter to their new home: “This effort can make a difference between life and death, as often, dogs are overlooked due to slight distance, and that’s a very solvable problem,” reads a statement on the Foster Dogs Inc. site, “Let’s work together! One, two hours is all it takes. GO NOW. Be sure to sanitize and limit personal contact. Go home feeling like a superhero!”
4. Donate Supplies or $$ to Local Shelters
Depending on where you are and how dramatically your area is affected, different locations will have different needs, so look up shelters close to where you live and see how you can help. Often, shelters will need more supplies or donations to keep them—and all the animals they shelter—safe. This is a great way to help animals if you can’t leave your home or foster/adopt an animal.
5. Adopt Your Own Furry Friend
Of course, if you’re able, one of the best ways to support animals during this time is to adopt one. (Make sure you’re able to take care of a pet before you adopt!) If you’ve been thinking about having a new pal join your family or keep you company while you live alone, now is the time. Plus, think of all the Instagram photos you could take. It’s a win/win situation.
News about the Coronavirus is unfolding in real-time, and while we make every effort to ensure our content is accurate, some of the information in this story may have changed. For the most up-to-date news on the pandemic, please go to the CDC or WHO websites. For the latest from STYLECASTER, visit our Coronavirus hub page.