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Pandemic Pets: Dog Ownership Increased by Nearly 11%, in 2020

September 9, 2021

According to The American Pet Products Association, dog ownership, has increased by nearly 11%, in 2020, during the Pandemic.

As we again, approach the dog days of summer, no one can argue that it’s been a grueling year and a half, with no “return-to-normal” in sight. For those with dogs at home, or those considering adopting or fostering a dog, in August, we celebrated National Dog Day. So now is the perfect time to pause and appreciate the joy dogs bring, the comfort and companionship they provide.

This should come as no surprise, but, millions of people craved canine camaraderie and welcomed new dogs and puppies into their homes, over the past year or so, during the Pandemic. According to The American Pet Products Association, dog ownership has increased by nearly 11% in 2020, with roughly 108 million dogs in U.S. households, up from 97 million, in 2018.

These statistics show how fast dog ownership increased and that is great news, but there is a downside to those numbers. It means, there will be a large number of pets entering shelters. So, we need to galvanize the public, to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year, either from public shelters, rescues and pure breed rescues.

Across the country, many people are unsure of, if or when, they’re going back to the office. Whether you’re remote, back to work, or both, dogs would rather be in homes, than in shelters. Dogs do lots of napping, no matter if they’re alone or they have human company. Leave them with enrichment toys and food puzzles, while you’re gone, give them love, exercise, playtime when you’re home and they’ll be happy hounds. Plenty of people work full time jobs and provide loving homes to foster or adopted pets. If you have a dog, who joined your household during the Pandemic, enroll him or her in an obedience class, to help the two of you, better communicate and understand each other’s expectations. Work regularly with dogs on training and socialization, so they can be a well-behaved member of the family and react appropriately, when meeting people, in the outside world. Prepare your dog for changes in your schedule, to prevent separation anxiety, if you’ll be homeless, due to work or school.

Now is a perfect time to adopt or foster a dog, because canine company is just good for us. Numerous studies have determined that the presence of pets is beneficial for our physical and mental health. The companionship of animals has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, lessen anxiety, helping people to feel calmer and more secure, no matter what’s going on, in the outside world.

So now is an important time to consider adopting, because adoptions are down across the country. Nationally, according to recent data, from 24PetWatch from nearly 1,200 shelters, adoptions are down 3.7% overall this year and for the month of June, intake was up 5.9%, as compared to 2020. More animals coming in and fewer going out, is causing stress for shelters. Adopting or fostering from a shelter or rescue group, literally saves lives.

Looking for a certain type of dog to adopt? Many of the dogs that enter shelters are purebreds and even trendy mixed breeds, like doodles. No matter what you're looking for, it can be found in a shelter or from a rescue. Check: to start your search. Adopting from shelters or rescue groups, rather than buying from breeders, pet stores or on-line retailers, saves lives.

Our dogs have been there for us and have provided companionship and comfort, through an extremely difficult year and a half, this is a great opportunity to honor the commitment we made to them, through adoption.

About Best Friends Animal Society
Best Friends Animal Society, is a leading animal welfare organization, working to end the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters, by 2025. Founded in 1984, Best Friends is a pioneer in the no-kill movement and has helped reduce the number of animals killed in shelters from an estimated 17 million per year to around 347,000. Best Friends, runs lifesaving programs all across the country, as well as the nation’s largest, no-kill, animal sanctuary. Working collaboratively with a network of more than 3,300 animal welfare, shelter partners and community members, nationwide, Best Friends is working to Save Them All. For more information, visit:

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