So, You Want to Get A Puppy (Quarantine Edition)

There are countless benefits to owning a dog during this pandemic. They don’t care about politics, they are always so happy to be with you, and getting outside in the fresh air with them is great exercise and good for your mental health. You have discussed it over with your family or housemates, and everyone is excited about the prospect of having a new furry friend in the house. It’s time to decide how you’ll do this.

Unfortunately, like everything else during this pandemic, the process is quite a bit more challenging right now. However, if you have patience and are flexible, you will be playing fetch with your new pal before you know it. It will be well worth the effort. If you do not have patience, then this process may help you realize it’s not the time to take on the responsiblitiy.

There are all kinds of places to get a dog whether its from breeders, rescue organizations, animal shelters, and sites like craigslist or Facebook. Where you choose to get your dog depends a lot on what type of dog is best suited to your lifestyle (big, small, puppy, older dog, active, rescue, purebred, etc.). No matter where you choose to go, the process for searching for and adopting an animal is time-consuming even before the pandemic. Quarantine bordedom has resulted in dogs and puppies being as hard to find as toilet paper.

As the Washington Post reported in August, “Shelters, non-profit rescues, private breeders, pet stores all reported more consumer demand than there were dogs or puppies to fill it.” Dog Adoptions Soar During the Pandemic Kim Kavin Aug. 12, 2020.  When it comes to shelters, at first, in March, the high demand was the result of good-hearted people seeking to foster animals before shelters had to shut down. As the virus situation has dragged on with no end in sight, people are now seeking dogs for companionship and many of those who fostered dogs decided to adopt them. In addition, it used to be that people who adopted dogs from shelters would have to return them to the shelter because they couldn’t care for them. Shelters are reporting a lower return rate, as people are home and able to care for their pet. However, this results in fewer pets available for adoption. If you find a shelter that has a dog you would be suitable for you, the process for adopting is often a “matchmaking survey”, and then an application that must be approved by the shelter. There is typically a 7-day trial period to make sure the pet is a good fit.

Adopting from a shelter is the least expensive option. The Scituate animal shelter, for example, charges $300-$450 depending on the size of the dog. Right now they only have one dog available.

Getting a rescue dog through a Non-profit also involved a lengthy application and references. Often they will only allow a person to take a rescue if they have experience owning a dog.

Buying a dog from a breeder can be complicated. You need to find a breeder, fill out an application, and go through an interview process. Even paying top dollar from a breeder has become more challenging due to the pandemic, for many reasons. One reason there is a shortage of puppies is because pet stores and other breeders are actually buying entire litters of purebred dogs in order to then resell them as “breeding stock”, or raising them to breed in order to have an ongoing supply of dogs to sell. This leaves the average dog purchaser shortchanged. Also, many breeders have stopped selling puppies because of concerns of people on their property. My family faced this when we picked up our dog May 1 from our breeder in Plymouth, NH. Even though we had started the process in January, she was very worried about COVID. Our breeder had two traffic cones in her driveway telling us where to stop the car. She motioned for one of us to get out of the car, and we had to call to the tiny puppy (who did not even know his name) to come to us. We picked him up, put him in the car, and drove away. It all worked out fine, but was pretty stressful and not what we envisioned.

Like everything else, getting a dog right now is fraught with extra complications. In the long run, however, it is well worth the time, effort, and expense to have a furry friend to help you through these challenging times.





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