Animal Shelters Call for People to Foster Pets Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

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If social distancing has left you feeling lonely and craving company, animal shelters have the purr-fect solution – foster a furry friend!

“If you don’t have a pet and are thinking about getting one, now is the perfect time to ‘try it on’ by fostering from your local shelter. Shelters and pet adoption facilities nationwide need people to foster pets on a temporary basis,” Julie Castle the CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, told PEOPLE.

Fostering a pet means you temporarily open up your home to an adoptable animal as it awaits a permanent residence.

Despite initial reports that pets were prone to coronavirus, the CDC and WHO assured that pets cannot contract COVID-19 and are not at risk for spreading it.

Castle elaborated on the benefits of having a pet at home during the pandemic adding that they can be a “source of comfort during a crisis.”

“The companionship of pets has been shown to reduce stress and lower anxiety, helping people to feel calmer and more secure when the news from the outside world is distressing,” she explained.

Having a pet around also forces you to get out of your head and go outside for some fresh air and exercise.

In addition to a happier and less lonely self-quarantine, anyone who has the time, space, and energy to foster a pet would be helping out the local shelter, which has seen a decrease in adoptions following the outbreak and an uptick in overcrowding.

“Animal shelters across the country are having to deal with an increase of dogs and cats in need of homes because fewer people are visiting shelters right now, and in some cases, shelters are having to temporarily close to the public,” Castle added. “Some animal shelters are already seeing an increase in intake, and many are bracing themselves for the possibility of fewer adoptions and fewer foster homes, and are concerned about limited space.”

Shelters in many cities around the U.S. including New York, Phoenix, St. Louis, Memphis, and Austin, have put out pleas for people to consider fostering.

ASPCA suggests that pet owners and anyone responsible for a furry friend takes necessary precautions, which includes stocking up on a month-long supply of food and medication, keeping medical records up to date, washing your hands while handling your pet, disinfecting pets products like bowls and leashes, and designating an emergency caregiver.

Who knows, maybe you’ll find your "furever" best friend after all of this is over.

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