July 2020

More Free Time?

How About Using it to Train an Adopted Pet


Pets are in high demand across the nation as the quarantine leaves people craving a COVID-companion. The Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter is quieter than it has likely ever been thanks to locals that have opened their homes to the animals in the shelter.

Erika Anderson, the program and development manager at the Shelter, said there have been more people in search of pet-partners through this pandemic. “It seems that people feel that maybe now is a really good time to get a pet because they’re home a lot and have the time to spend with them. As they become adoptable they get adopted, very quickly.”

Unlike the toilet paper shortage, the adoptable pet shortage is a positive twist to the pandemic troubles. 

A problem that many pet adoption agencies face, now more than ever, is impulse-adoption. This is when people adopt pets in a love-at-first-sight fashion without being fully committed or capable of meeting the pet’s needs. In some cases, this leads to animals being returned or traded off in other, irresponsible ways.

Dr. Laurie Moore is a professional animal communicator who lived in Santa Cruz County for 33 years and built her business here. She offers classes to people who want to have a stronger pet/owner relationship with their furry loved ones. She encourages new owners to see their companions as more than just pets.

“The most important thing we can do for new pets is to think of them the way we do of a new human, baby child. Assume your animal friend is highly intelligent even though their language system is different. Assume they are on Earth with a purpose and have great respect for all their contributions because animals, just like people, loved to be valued for what we came to give.”

Marissa Rodriguez is a 26-year-old mother of two. When the schools and parks closed down, she had a hard time keeping her 3 and 7-year-old boys happy. Netflix can only fill so much of the void in our hearts so she decided to bring home Spunk, their half-and-half Chihuahua-Weiner dog.

“I got him for my kids to distract them from everything going on and bring some joy into the house.” For Rodriguez, Spunk was an emotional contributor. “He kept everyone happy, busy, and distracted. He’d put a smile on everyone’s face when he would jump on you and lick you and want to play.”

Rodriguez has since handed Spunk off to her father to help him deal with loneliness and other personal situations.

Pets can also help owners with physical health according to Anderson. “The length of a leash is usually the 6-foot distance to keep away from people, so dogs can help us social-distance while we go on walks and get exercise and enjoy the beautiful community we live in.”

Because of the influx of new pet owners, the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter has taken steps to minimize impulse-adoption with a thorough adoption process.

The animals can only be seen online through their website. There, you can request to see the animal in person. However, before you meet the potential pet you must submit an application online. The shelter will then review the application and request approval for the pet from the landlord or verify that the applicant owns the property they live on. There is also an element of match-making where the shelter will find pets that are more suitable to a person’s specific circumstances. Once this is all done, you can meet with the little guys and make your final choice.

“I feel that these things have put up a safeguard so that we don’t have animals going out and then coming back,” said Anderson. She advises new owners to consider the current circumstances and how they will change and affect the pets.

“Right now, our pets our getting used to having us home all the time. New pets will think this is normal. Think about what your daily schedule should be when you return to work and, if it’s a new animal, prepare them for what it might be like when you return to work so they are not left dealing with separation anxiety.”

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