Animal Care and Control sees adoption surge during pandemic, pet sitters hope to see business rebound

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Professional pet sitters are hoping a pandemic pet adoption surge at Animal Care and Control means good things for the future.

The start of the pandemic held a lot of unknowns for Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control back in March when they learned they would be unable to hold adoptions for a few weeks.

“We weren’t sure if we were going to see an influx of animals, people who weren’t able to afford to keep them if they’d fallen on hard times,” said Holly Pasquinelli, Community Relations and Education Specialist for Animal Care and Control.

Instead, Pasquinelli said they saw a surge in adoption applications after launching their online form.
They have seen 2,600 applications for 1,400 animals since March, and have had about 1,000 fewer animals surrender compared to last year. For the shelter, it is a good problem to have.

“Last summer we would have days where we would have 20-plus dogs available for adoption,” said Pasquinelli. “The most we’ve probably had in any single day since March has been, I would say a very busy day for us would be if we had more than 10 dogs available for adoption.”

While the shelter saw bigger demand for pets, TLC In-Home Pet Care co-owner Laura Andrews says their business came to a screeching halt during the pandemic.

“We had, oh, at least a dozen trips planned for people this year, and those were all canceled,” said Andrews, who owns the business with her husband Rich.

The Andrews had to adjust their dog walking business to include no contact with customers, as the majority of their dog walking clientele are elderly. They had weeks without any scheduled in-home visits as well. As life began opening back up, they started to see some weekend jobs. Andrews said every month gets a little bit better, and while they still are not seeing the holiday bookings they are used to they are picking up some extra business as offices and schools open back up.

“A few owners going back to work and realizing, oh my gosh, I’m going to need some help now because they’ve been home with the dog this whole time and now going back to work with the kids going back to school, they’re needing more help,” said Andrews.

Animal Care and Control is still far below their capacity for dogs but has returned to normal levels for cat capacity. They are hoping the adoption momentum continues as they are unsure what will happen when evictions resume. It could mean more animals back at their shelter.

“That’s a big reason people surrender their animals to us,” said Pasquinelli. “They’re being evicted, they don’t have a lot of time to rehome their animal on their own so they bring them to us. Right now, we’re not seeing that but once those evictions start up again, we are not sure what to expect”

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