Despite the challenges brought about by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, every dog still deserves a loving home. As we continue to stay in touch with our shelter and rescue network to understand their needs and see how PEDIGREE Foundation can help, we’ve launched a bi-monthly mini survey to gather perspectives and insights.
We’re pleased to share the results of our first survey, fielded in late May and early June. We sent the survey to about 1,600 shelters and rescues that have applied for or received PEDIGREE Foundation grants in the past or signed up for our newsletter to stay in touch. Here’s what we found.
Fostering is on the Rise
We’ve all seen news reports celebrating that people came out in record numbers to foster this year. According to our shelter and rescue network, it’s not just buzz. The number of dogs shelters have in foster has risen, on average, by about 8 percent.
They also told us that more new people are trying fostering. On average, shelters and rescues said that 29 percent of their current foster parents are first-time fosters. But with this good news came the concern that when people go back to working away from home, they may need to return their foster pups.
Shelters tell us they’re optimistic about this trend and plan to continue with more use of fosters going forward. The average estimate for how many dogs will be in shelter in the future was 54 percent.
Dogs Will Still be Surrendered
Of course, all foster parents won’t be able to keep their fosters – some prefer to play a temporary role and others may find that their foster pet isn’t a fit for their family. About a third of our shelter and rescue survey respondents said that they’re concerned dogs in foster will be returned following the COVID-19 crisis.
Asked about the potential for an overwhelming number of dogs to be surrendered in the months ahead, shelters and rescues ranked the issues they most expect to bring dogs back. They ranked as top concerns people who can’t afford pet medical care, those who face human health issues, and behavior problems with pets.
The Challenges Continue for Shelters and Rescues
We also asked shelters and rescues to rank key challenges they’re facing. The highest ranked answers were the lack of fundraising opportunities, lack of funds for day-to-day operations and increasing demand due to more homeless pets.
An additional concern in write-in comments related to transportation – the challenges of transporting dogs in need from areas with higher shelter populations to areas with higher adoptions rates, given the restrictions caused by the pandemic.
Reduced opportunities for spay/neuter was also a frequently cited concern.
Please Help us Help
As shelters and rescues look to the future and how they can use what’s been learned so far in 2020, many indicated they’d be putting more emphasis on fostering and efforts to keep pets in homes and avoid surrender.
We hope to help as much as we can. Since April, PEDIGREE Foundation has awarded more than 100 Disaster Relief Grants for COVID-19 to shelters and rescues across the country.
In addition, to help identify best practices for sheltering in the future, we awarded a $50,000 grant to Human Animal Support Services (HASS). It’s an international coalition of animal services leaders and more than 30 pilot organizations that are creating community-based solutions to animal homelessness. HASS is led by Austin Pet’s Alive!’s national outreach division, American Pets Alive!
We would like to do even more, but that depends on our donors and how much we can fundraise in the weeks ahead. If you can help, please donate here. The more we can assist shelters and rescues, the more dogs can get the loving homes they deserve.
Check below for our full May/June survey infographic (click to download as a PDF!), and stay tuned for more insights later this summer.