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Amid COVID-19, why does everyone want a dog?

Apr 30, 2020 01:44PM ● By Editor
A dog named Cori leaving the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, Minnesota, for a new home.  Photo: Evan Frost, MPR

By Rachael Bale, ANIMALS Executive Editor from National Geographic - April 30, 2020

When Nick Hennen adopted his Chihuahua-dachshund mix three weeks ago, his name was Queso. Queso didn’t seem to like his name very much, so Hennen, who lives in Washington State, turned to Twitter. Now Queso’s name is Fauci. As in, Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the country’s foremost infectious disease experts and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

“This doggo saved my sanity really,” Hennen told my colleague David Beard.

One of the bright spots amid the coronavirus pandemic has been the spike in pet rescues. Though shelters are closed, video meet-and-greets, online profiles, and curbside adoptions have helped some shelters and rescues empty their kennels. (Above, a dog named Cori leaving the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley, Minnesota, for a new home). 

For many who are sheltering at home alone—heck, even those who aren’t alone—having a companion animal is a blessing. They combat loneliness and depression, can lower stress, and are just plain fun to have around. And at a time when many feel lost, they can give a sense of purpose. 

National Geographic and Morning Consult poll of 2,200 people in the U.S. found that 20 percent have considered adopting a pet during this time of social distancing and quarantining. And 17 percent have considered fostering. The overall number of adoptions appears to have decreased somewhat from last year, according to PetPoint, which tracks data from more than a thousand shelters. That could be because some shelters aren’t able to process adoptions because of the staffing safety protocols during the pandemic. Nonetheless, the number of animals in foster care has roughly tripled or quadrupled because of the coronavirus, Steve Zeidmanwrites.

Maybe all those fosters will turn, like Nick and Fauci (below), into forever families after all.
Nick Hennen with his Chihuahua-dachshund mix named Fauci.  Photo: Nick Curtis Hennen
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