Pet adoptions soar during age of social distancing

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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) As we all practice social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, many are looking for someone, or something, to help them pass the time.

Pet adoptions are up in the state's most populous county. The kennels at the Humane Society of Chittenden County are mostly empty after more than 45 pets found new homes this past week. That's about 35 more than the weekly average.

We're told more people are choosing to bring a new companion into their lives now that they're home for most of the day.

"They love, the companionship of animals, and I think that can often really mitigate the stress that everyone's feeling. So, we want to accommodate that the best we can. It's good for the animals, of course, and it's good for their adopters," said the Humane Society's Joyce Cameron.

She says they’ve changed their adoption procedure. If you want a pet, you’ll have to fill out an adopter profile online and call to schedule an appointment to meet the animal. She says there are currently 39 animals being fostered or up for adoption.

Cameron says their Good Neighbor program, which is offered to anyone in need of financial, veterinary or any type of help caring for their pet, is still available but only on an emergency basis.

They’re also doing what they can to prevent the virus from spreading among employees and to avoid layoffs.

“We have asked many of our staff that does not need to be on-site to perform their essential duties to work from home like many other businesses. We’ve also asked anyone who has been on vacation when this began, has been traveling, who has been in contact with somebody that’s potentially infected obviously to stay home if they’re feeling ill,” she said. “We ask them to stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days so we’re following all of the recommendations from the CDC as well as state and federal government.”

Cameron says they’ve also ramped up sanitation efforts to keep staff and adopters safe. She says they deep clean all high-touch surfaces in the building. Cameron reiterates that animals can’t contract COVID-19, but staff and volunteers still recommend people wash their hands before and after touching an animal.

The CDC says it has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19.