Dogs & Cats are Helping South Jersey Survive Social Distancing

As NJ residents decide to stay home to stay healthy, an unlikely business is booming: animal adoption. Over 100 cats and dogs were sent to foster homes just last week – those are unprecedented numbers, says Gina Guarnere, of Homeward Bound, formerly Camden County Animal Shelter.

“We’ve been working around the clock to expand foster capabilities and make sure all foster families are given the tools and training they need to properly transition shelter pets to family animals,” says Guarnere, noting that the Blackwood shelter has temporarily said goodbye to 2/3 of their adoptable pets.

Who’s fostering the most? College students.

“Now that many colleges are closed and students are home for the semester, they’re wondering what to do with all their time,” she says. “Having a pet to keep them company, especially when they were pulled away from their friends so abruptly, can really help bring some joy into this situation.”

Even in normal times, shelters rely on foster families to provide temporary homes for cats or dogs. But it’s especially important now, because social distancing has reduced the number of volunteers permitted in shelters. Also, reduced revenue will affect the shelter’s ability to care for these animals, Guarnere says.

Fostering can last anywhere from 24 hours to a few months. Sometimes however the animals don’t come back to the shelter at all.

“There’s a term for that: foster fail,” says Guarnere. “It’s when someone plans to take in an animal for a short period of time, but they fall in love and end up adopting instead. It’s always an exciting thing, because that means one of our animals found a family”
So far, Guarnere personally knows of at least 2 foster fails during the outbreak (she herself has 4 foster fails living in her home). But for the rest, she anticipates animals will stay with their foster families for around two weeks.

Even if you aren’t able to foster or adopt an animal, there are still ways to get involved.

“The easiest way to help is to share our posts on social media to help get our message out there,” she says. “Monetary donations are also huge, especially because we aren’t able to operate our clinic or hold fundraisers, which is a huge portion of our revenue.”

“Supply donations, like dry cat and dog food and cleaning supplies are also crucial,” she says. “All supplies, even for animals, are limited right now, so these types of donations can go a long way.”

Thinking of fostering? Check out some of the cuddly faces available now at Homeward Bound Animal Pet Adoption Center:

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