Why is it so difficult to adopt an animal lately? In a word: COVID.

The world changed in March 2020.  You and your family stayed in quarantine, and even now don’t go out nearly as much as you have in the past. The kids have a new and ever-changing school schedule which often includes remote learning. You not only have been working from home, but it looks like this may become a more permanent work solution.  What better time to adopt a new furry family member, right?! You are not alone with that idea. Demand to adopt is at an all time high.

Now let’s look at the other side of the equation: supply. As a municipal animal shelter, the VAO will always take in strays and unwanted animals from the 26 towns that we serve in southern NJ. When space allows, we work with our rescue partners who pull animals from high-kill shelters, predominantly in southern states. Back in March, no one wanted to travel to NJ, because we had high COVID numbers, so transports all but stopped. By the summer the tides had turned, and it was the southern states with high COVID infections. This impacted our rescues, as they found their family, volunteers, and sometimes themselves battling the horrible virus, which made them unable to travel. Transports have been slowly getting back to normal, and we are receiving dogs almost weekly. But we only receive 10 or so at a time, and then we do hold them for a 7 day quarantine just to ensure that everyone is healthy.

For the sake of this blog, we are going to refer mostly to dogs, as cats have been more readily available locally.

So you decide it’s time to add a pup to the family, which is wonderful! You’ve come to the VAO and met the dog of your dreams, you’ve filled out an application, and wait for the call to come pick your pooch up. But instead you find out that Fido is going to another family. “WHAT?!? How can that be? We are a great family!!” you think out loud. Truth be told, you are a great family, and may make excellent adopters. But here is why this may have happened. Our goal is to match the animal with the very best fit possible. We are not a first come, first served shelter. We really would hate to see an animal returned, because that just causes more confusion and stress for them. Our Kennel Manager & Canine Coordinator work very closely with our dogs on a daily basis. They assess their behavior, and really get to know them. If we think that it is in the best interest for Fido to have a large fenced yard, and you live in an apartment, then we will consider those with yards first. If we know Fido needs a quiet home, or one without small children, then we focus on apps that fit those qualifications.

Even in doing so, there can still be many viable and strong applications for one animal, but the reality is that Fido can only have one family! We do our very best to select the right family, and that may not be yours, but that does not mean that you would not make a good pet owner! Please know that it is nothing personal if you do not get approved for Fido. Again, we are doing the very best we can with the limited resources that we have, and our priority remains first and foremost, to find the right home for the animal.

People have been quick to give us a negative on-line review which stems from their not getting the animal that they wanted. But please let’s try to keep this in perspective.  When a homeless animal finds their forever home, it is a good thing!  Let’s rejoice in that good news, and know that there will always be more dogs that will need forever homes. One of those dogs may be your future family member!  Your $5 application fee need only be paid one time and your application will be held on file for 60 days. It is our hope that every deserving home finds an animal to love. We are trying our darnedest to help make that happen.

In the meantime we ask for your patience, perspective and understanding. After all, we are all in this together.

Just a little food for thought from your friends at the VAO.


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