Families spending more time at home and looking for activities during the pandemic has been good news for pets waiting for new homes.
Pet adoptions are up nationwide, according to several news reports. That’s the case locally, too, for at least some pet adoption organizations.
“I would say we’ve seen an increase in adoptions of about 20% to 25%,” said Denise Wilkinson, CEO at Pawmetto Lifeline, a pet adoption, medical services and boarding agency on Bower Parkway. “We’ve seen harder-to-place dogs find their forever home. We’ve also seen an overall increase in cats, kittens and dogs. Puppies are always in demand and many times are adopted sight unseen.”
Adoptions have been steady at Lexington County Animal Services, according to director Roy Mefford, but he’s seen another pandemic-related benefit.
“There were a lot less animals turned in as strays over the summer,” Mefford said. “I think it’s because people were home more, so their dogs weren’t getting out and people weren’t losing their pets as much.”
However, the increased interest in pet adoption has created an opening for online scammers, too. Crooks reportedly offer to sell — or even give away — pets to potential owners searching online, then require additional fees for so-called special crates, shipping insurance, paperwork or other unneeded items. Their victims spend hundreds or thousands of dollars for pets they never receive.
The best way for hopeful pet owners to avoid pet scams is to “shop local,” according to Mefford and Wilkinson.
“Go to an actual building,” Mefford advised. “Work with your local rescue organizations or shelters, rather than buy from an individual advertising online where you can’t see the pet.”
Visiting in person also allows prospective owners to see how the pet has been cared for, Wilkinson said. “The facility should be clean and proper medical records should come with the pet.”
And don’t be surprised if you’re asked a lot of questions, she added. “Any organization that asks you to fill out an application and asks you questions has the pet’s and the family’s best interests in mind. When an organization makes a good decision for the animal’s placement, they’ve made a great decision for the family.”