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Pet adoptions on the rise in P.E.I. during pandemic

Max and Snowy, who were recently adopted from the P.E.I. Humane Society, are seen here at their new, forever home. - Hailey Byrne/Special to The Guardian
Max and Snowy, who were recently adopted from the P.E.I. Humane Society, are seen here at their new, forever home. - Hailey Byrne/Special to The Guardian

When Hailey Byrne saw two husky mix puppies in a P.E.I. Humane Society Facebook post, she knew this would be the perfect time to adopt a pet. 

Byrne and her partner had been talking about getting a dog since last year, but couldn't find the right time. After they were both laid off from work, they realized the right moment for them was right now.

With the coronavirus (COVID-19 strain) pandemic, people are required to practise social distancing measures and spend more time at home. 

"We knew we had more time off to train them and get (them) used to the house and it definitely made it easier having this time off to work with them," Byrne said.

Max and Snowy are two-and-a-half-year-old brothers.

"We saw a post and applied on Monday and got a call back on Thursday. On Friday, March 20th, we got them," said Byrne. 

Jennifer Harkness
Jennifer Harkness

People are adopting animals lightning fast, said Jennifer Harkness, development manager at the P.E.I. Humane Society. 

"Based on how quick animals are adopted and all the applications alone, it's very clear people are having more time to spend with the animals," she said.

"I think it's a wonderful thing if you're isolated or if you are socially distancing, working from home – and we know it might not be for a short period of time – to have a loving pet with you." 

Byrne said she finds this period of time unfortunate, but special.

"Too bad that this is all going on and we're stuck in the house. Fortunately, we have Max and Snowy, and we have this time to train them and be with them while this is still going on," said Byrne.

The P.E.I. Humane Society closed its door to visitors due to the COVID-19 outbreak on March 18. Since then, more than 50 animals have been adopted.

In March, 97 animals were adopted. It is a 20-per-cent increase compared to the 74 that were adopted in March 2019.

The not-for-profit organization is considered an essential service and has a limited staff who continue to take care of the animals.

"A lot of us are working from home, including our veterinarian," said Harkness.

"There were a lot of modifications to make in terms of how we operate the shelter."

There are a number of restrictions in place for visitors to not have contact with the pets until they are adopted.

"Normally people would come to see the animal and then we schedule a date for adoption," Harkness said. 

"Now when we receive an application, we need to make a pre-approval for the adoption before they even meet the animal. They have to apply online and fill (out) an application. The adoption co-ordinator will call a potential adopter and have a mini-interview, also answering all the questions adopters might have. They come in and have a short five minutes to meet the animal and decide if they are taking the animal home."

There were only a few animals available for adoption when Harkness spoke to The Guardian.

"That's wonderful to have the support of the community and know that people are looking to the P.E.I. Humane Society to adopt and welcome a new family member. We're very glad the community trusts us," she said. 


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