Will a spate of dog adoptions during COVID-19 be a fad or lasting passion?

Adopting dogs is a commitment and therefore it is better to be completely sure about being committed to a dog for life before adopting one.

Two-month old Nala (photo credit: Courtesy)
Two-month old Nala
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The last few months have been very bizarre, topsy-turvy months for everyone. As a result of the coronavirus, staying at home has become the new going out and people who have been used to spending many hours outside the home, both at work and socializing, suddenly found themselves in almost total lockdown at home.
One of the unexpected benefits of this was that people had more time for things they wouldn’t normally have time for in the daily frenetic rat-race pace of life that so many of us have become accustomed to. This, coupled with the fact that people were discouraged from leaving their homes without a legitimate reason, meant that some people suddenly found themselves with the time, energy and motivation to bring a four-legged friend into their homes, either by adopting them or fostering them.
As a result, the numbers of dogs in shelters actually decreased during the months of lockdown with people lining up to take dogs home, a phenomenon that occurred worldwide. In times of such uncertainty and worry, cuddling an adorable furry creature or having a valid reason to go out and walk them can only be a good thing!
Jerusalem Loves Animals, an animal rescue group in Jerusalem that doesn’t have a shelter of its own but works in finding homes for dogs and cats from the Jerusalem municipal shelter (two of my dogs were adopted from there), reported that between 30 and 40 dogs were adopted during this period with many dogs being fostered as well. While fostering a dog is not permanent unless it becomes a foster fail (as was the case with one of my dogs!), fostering a dog has many benefits for both people and dogs. It is an ideal solution for people who are unable to commit to a dog in the long-term or want to foster a dog before deciding whether to adopt it, with the rescue group paying for veterinary care and food. Fostering is also beneficial for dogs, as it gets them out of the shelter and gives them an opportunity to become used to living in a home with a family, which ultimately increases their chances of being adopted.
Hedva Vandenbrook, the head of Jerusalem Loves Animals, said that while there was obviously a concern over people adopting dogs during the coronavirus period and then returning them when life began to return to normal, thankfully so far that hasn’t been the case. While there were a couple of returns – as can happen, as adoptions don’t always work out – so far none of them has been returned due to an easing of the restrictions and the gradual return to normal life. While Vandenbrook cites the positive aspects of adopting dogs, she also urges people to remember that adopting dogs is a commitment and therefore it is better to be completely sure about being committed to a dog for life before adopting one.
One of the most emotional adoptions of the recent period is that of nine-year-old Snoof, who was just adopted after being with Jerusalem Loves Animals for six years. During that time, Snoof spent stints in private kennels and foster homes, and Jerusalem Loves Animals recruited volunteers to help walk him and paid for his medical treatment. But none of this is the same as being in a home. Snoof is no doubt making up for lost time in finally enjoying the comforts of his own home. All adoptions are special, but to see a senior dog adopted after so long of waiting for a home makes it even more special and moving.
Another Jerusalem-based animal organization that also saw an increase in adoptions during the coronavirus period was the Jerusalem Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The JSPCA has a shelter at Atarot, which houses both dogs and cats and is normally bursting at the seams. It tends not to offer the opportunity to foster dogs unless there are extenuating circumstances, such as a dog needing to be trained before it can be adopted, but focuses on getting dogs adopted.
During the lockdown, they had 80 adoptions, with people coming from all over the country, including from a kibbutz in the North. People were able to make an appointment to come and adopt a dog even during the quarantine period. Bar a few days here and there, people were coming to the shelter regularly with a view to adopting a dog. The majority of dogs being adopted were big ones between the ages of three to five, but they had so many dogs adopted in March that they ran out of small dogs to be adopted.
Puppies are normally the first to be adopted, but due to people going out less, people were finding fewer abandoned puppies to bring to shelters. Chaya Beili, intake and adoption coordinator and a member of the board for the JSPCA, also stressed the importance of not adopting a dog just as an amusement or distraction during the lockdown period, only to return them afterwards. She said she asked everyone who called what would happen when everyone goes back to school and work. “Most said: ‘Don’t worry,’ which is not very comforting, and one person even said, ‘Who knows?’
“A dog is lifelong responsibility that should not depend on people’s external circumstances such as free time or your job, and that once you make the commitment, you make it work even when it’s less convenient.”
Fortunately, the JSPCA reported a total of only three dogs being returned during the first COVID-19 wave for reasons not related to the virus, such as the dog being too energetic for the family. Regrettably, since the first lockdown ended, things have begun to return to normal in that the numbers of people abandoning dogs (not necessarily those adopted during the coronavirus period) has begun to slowly revert to its normal numbers of one or two dogs being abandoned daily.
Adopting a dog is a great thing to do and brings a lot of pleasure and health benefits, but it is also important to remember that puppies grow up and that dogs do require looking after and being walked regardless of how you feel or the weather outside. People who have pets (not just dogs) are generally healthier, less stressed and pay fewer visits to their doctor, which is another positive aspect of adopting an animal.
In this day and age when people are increasingly aware of the importance of eating healthy and avoiding processed foods as much as possible, this trend has not passed dogs by.
Dog bakeries are extremely popular in the United States and while there is less demand for such bakeries in Israel, it is growing in popularity here, too. One such bakery is Tel Aviv-based Pomeri.
Pomeri was founded in 2015 by Omer Lavon and Aya Gur Lavi as a bakery offering healthy and festive treats for dogs. The bakery offers treats free of artificial colorings and preservatives with an emphasis on superfoods such as seaweed, beets and cranberries. They also contain vitamins and healthy ingredients such as turmeric, coconut oil and rosemary. Some of their snacks are even vegan and gluten-free.
I first discovered Pomeri’s treats at a dog event several years ago where its booth with natural-looking biscuits and neatly packaged bags of treats soon caught my eye and my dog’s nose. Pomeri sells its biscuits both through its store and in other pet shops throughout the country. In addition to selling biscuits, it also offers muffins and birthday cakes, with an option to add the name of the dog and to make the cake vegan or gluten-free. Two years ago, I decided to spoil my dogs with a birthday cake from Pomeri, which was made of tapioca flour, coconut oil, natural peanut butter, coconut and carob pieces. My dogs gobbled it down enthusiastically, and while I was indeed tempted to taste it, as all the ingredients were suitable for humans, I decided to leave it for them to enjoy!
Regardless of coronavirus lockdowns, there are always dogs that need adopting or fostering. If you decide that you and your family are ready to add a four-legged friend to your household, consider paying a visit to your local shelter or attending an adoption day. Most dogs are incredibly food-motivated so spoiling them with some healthy treats is a surefire way of making them settle in quickly.
To adopt a dog, contact Hedva Vandenbrook at Jerusalem Loves Animals at 054-945-4225 or through its Facebook page; or the JSPCA at (02) 585-4465 or through its Facebook page. To order Pomeri treats, contact them at 073-588-3033, via Facebook or website at www.pomeri.co.il

Tags dogs