Newfoundlanders help provide a home for animals in need during the pandemic.
Zachary Thorne, a bakery clerk at Colemans in Mount Pearl, adopted his cat Patches in October for the St. John’s SPCA. He enjoys playing with her after a hard day at work. Kyle Curtis/Kicker
People that have adopted pets during the pandemic say it has helped them get through a tough year.
It’s also been a tough year for animal shelters on the island. In the early days of COVID-19, many shelters were forced to close their doors causing an overflow of animals in their facilities. The shelters remain closed to the public because most are unable to follow social distancing protocols.
During the total lockdown, many people decided to adopt a pet causing a surge in adoptions. Fast-forward to now and adoptions have slowed. The SPCA in St. John’s is only averaging around 20 adoptions per week, compared to the 29 each week they were averaging this time last year.
“She was there for five months at the SPCA. We wanted to adopt a cat that was more in need of an owner.”
Karen Mahoney, executive director of the SPCA in St. John’s, says the numbers of adoptions are low due to the struggles the pandemic and Snowmageddon have caused.
“Were at about 870 adoptions for this year,” said Mahoney. “This time last year we were at around 1,200. So we are down 400, but people are still adopting.”
The rooms in the shelter, says Mahoney, are too small to accommodate physical distancing rules. To keep everyone safe, the SPCA shelter offers curbside adoption. The person or family that is adopting the pet will lay their pet carrier on the porch of the shelter. A worker will then take the carrier inside and sanitize it. The worker will then put the adopted pet in the carrier and lay the carrier back out on the porch for them to take home.
“During COVID my dogs were my walking buddies we’d hike for hours. They were great company. If you do have a mental illness they are really compassionate, kind and they give you something to do.”
When Zachary Thorne and his girlfriend Katie Loder got their apartment in October, they decided to adopt a seven-year-old cat named Patches from the SPCA. He says the process was easy and quick.
“It took 24 hours after we sent our application in, then after three days we were able to pick her up,” said Thorne.
Having a pet at home is very therapeutic for most people, says Mahoney. Owning a pet has helped a lot of people deal with the lack of human contact and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, she says.
“During COVID, my dogs were my walking buddies,” said Mahoney. “We’d hike for hours. They were great company. If you do have a mental illness they are really compassionate, kind and they give you something to do.”
Thorne says he and his girlfriend always planned on getting a pet. They decided to get a cat because it would be a better fit due to the size of their new apartment.
“She was there for five months at the SPCA,” said Thorne. “We wanted to adopt a cat that was more in need of an owner.”
Out of the 800 adoptions from the SPCA in St. John’s this year, Mahoney says they only had around four returns and those were due to allergies.
Coming home from work and playing with Patches is something Thorne and Loder look forward to.
“Since we’ve had her it’s been awesome,” said Thorne. “We both love her a lot.”