Pandemic Pets: Now What?

By: Talin Seta Shahinian

Pandemic pets became a trend due to more people staying at home during the COVID-19 lockdown. Many households that never considered pet adoption before went ahead and took the plunge. In 2020, pet adoption went up by 4.4%, bringing the total of pet-owning households up to 56.4%. During times of social isolation, these newly adopted pets brought comfort and companionship to their owners. Amid so much uncertainty, the daily bonding with a new dog or cat gave many new pet parents something grounding for their focus.

However, now that people are returning to work outside of their homes, what will happen to all these pets? Are they going to be neglected? Surrendered to another shelter or returned to the shelters? Or re-sold if they were purchased? Surrender refers to giving a pet up to a new shelter or rescue group, and a return means they were returned to the same shelter or group from where they were adopted.

Dogs & Cats & Zoom, Oh My!

During a lot of hardship, loss, stress, and changing landscapes in all areas of society during Covid, there was one big plus: many dogs and cats were adopted! These additions to the family were integrated into the new routines of sheltering in place, working from home, and countless Zoom meetings. There were many appearances by cats crashing Zoom chats. There were some places with record-setting adoptions. In April of 2020, Florida’s Palm Beach county’s leading public kennel had all its available dogs adopted for the first time in their entire history!

Struggles To Adjust

In all these mostly joyous adoptions, some new pet parents struggled, especially those that adopted dogs. This was particularly true of people that had never had a dog before, didn’t know what to expect, and weren’t prepared for the training involved. In the case of inexperienced dog owners who adopted puppies, some found themselves in over their heads.


Other first-time pet adopters hadn’t sufficiently educated themselves on the expenses involved in pet ownership. Especially if new veterinary expenses dovetailed with a reduction in income, or total job loss due to COVID, some of these new pet parents found themselves feeling the pinch. Unfortunately, instead of exploring options for financial assistance available from shelters, pet rescue groups, and charities, some pet owners chose to give up their animals. While this is a sad circumstance, it gives these pets another chance at happiness with a new owner who takes pet adoption as a lifelong commitment.

Most Pandemic Pets are Still in their Forever Homes

Thankfully, these folks were in the minority. Many people bonded with their new pets and benefited so greatly from their comforting presence that they couldn’t imagine parting ways. Even though there were some slight spikes in pet returns in some isolated areas, overall, the numbers in 2020 and 2021 were lower than pet surrenders and returns in 2019. That’s excellent news! Most pet parents realize that adoption is for life and hold on to their beloved fur friends. These beloved pandemic pets have been a silver lining for many and are now accompanying us into happier days post-quarantine.

If you live in NW Wisconsin, Purple Cat Mobile Vet Clinic is here to help you keep your cat healthy and happy. We’re a high-quality, high-volume, low-cost spay/neuter clinic. We see cats exclusively. Find information for scheduling on our website. You can also look on our Facebook page for more helpful information on all things feline!


All cat spay/neuter appointments are made on this website. We post new clinic dates 6 weeks ahead of time. Check back often if you do not see a date that works for you.

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We are a high-volume, high-quality, low-cost spay/neuter veterinary clinic. 99% of our surgeries are done on cats. We occasionally do dog spay/neuter surgeries for our shelter partners

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