Pandemic Overwhelms Animal Rescue Groups


Above is reporter Shayla Borger photographed with Red Rock dog Champagne, who is looking for her perfect home. You can find more about Champagne and other Red Rock dogs on their Facebook.

Now that everyone is home 24/7 without much to do, it is the perfect time to foster a pet. 

Social media is full of news about animal shelters running out of dogs and cats. That’s a good thing, but perhaps too much so, as shelters are now overwhelmed and worried about the future. 

Heather Bendian, president of Red Rock Rescue, a nonprofit organization based in Walnutport, Pennsylvania, explained her concerns regarding the rescue during these times of uncertainty.

Red Rock Rescue is very thorough when evaluating applications of potential adopters and fosters, but with the dense flow of applications coming in, the rescue is struggling to keep up. 

Applications are not only for fostering right now. There are a lot of people wanting to adopt, perhaps because the period of time being spent at home is indefinite, so they are looking for an animal companion. 

“We have triple the amount of applications coming in, but we are still screening as usual,” Bendian said. “People may have time now, which is great, but when people go back to their lives and have long days. I don’t want to see pups and dogs alone for a long time.”

When people are able to return to their normal lives, rescues will be flooded, she said. 

Of course most of the fostered animals will return, but many of the adopted ones will also be returned, as the previous owners will no longer be home all day to take care of them. 

Bendian compares this imminent surge of intakes to Christmas time, when people get puppies as gifts, only to surrender them in January and February. This is the same scenario, but on a larger and previously unexpected scale. 

Red Rock Rescue is already seeing an increase in the number of dogs coming in.. This past weekend, the rescue took in 19 dogs and puppies — the most they have received in one weekend in their entire four years of service. Of those 19, 14 came by plane.

Though the rescue agency is having difficulty keeping up with applications for adoptions and fosters, many of the dogs are indeed finding homes, both permanent and temporary.

Home visits as well as meet-and-greets are done over FaceTime. If an applicant has other dogs, meet-and-greets take place outside. 

Through rigorous dedication and hard work, 21 dogs have been adopted since March 1. Other adoptions are still pending. Some dogs that have been with the organization for a relatively long time have finally found homes, for which Bendian is grateful to the adopters and so happy for these dogs. 

When faced with this uncharted territory, rescues are met with the troubling question: what will happen when life returns to normal?