Implementing creative adoptions with social distancing during COVID-19

by Wesley Cheung BVSc (2019 Cornell Shelter Medicine Intern)

During these times of profound uncertainty and loneliness, pets are more important than ever. Many people have flocked to foster or adopt a lockdown companion from shelters. In turn, this eases the burden on shelters needing to decrease animals in their care due to social distancing requirements, limits of PPE, and the need for the shelters to focus on emergency duties during this pandemic.

As shelters close their doors to the public (while still staying open for animals in need), they are increasingly compelled to provide innovative ways to connect shelter residents with potential adopters, while minimizing face-to-face interactions.

  • Midwest Animal Rescue in Minnesota has partnered with a local beer company to provide a 3-month supply of beer for anyone fostering or adopting a dog (another lockdown essential), while some other animal shelters have started virtual adoption fairs to successfully drive adoptions. [1][2]
  • RSPCA in New South Wales, Australia launched their Uber-style dog delivery service in early April to replace any previous adoption systems, encouraging Australians to adopt a pet from home. As long as adopters have access to internet connection and a functional phone, they apply online, meet the animal via video call, go through the relevant checks and interviews, and have the animal delivered to their doorsteps by an RSPCA staff for one final meet-and-greet before finalizing the adoption. [3]
  • Palm Valley Animal Society in Texas now offers a pick-up or delivery service, including an online foster reservation and curbside pickup system called ‘Dog-n-Dash’ and a recently launched scheduled adoption and foster delivery service, wittily named ‘Petazon Prime’. [4]

Whether the reason for deciding to adopt or foster may be for companionship, to aid an animal, or to help our animal shelters, adopters and foster parents are saving lives. They are heroes. And as shelter personnel, we are here to create, empower and support these heroes during these difficult and uncertain times by creating accessible means for animals to be placed into homes without compromising the safety of the humans working in shelters or the animals themselves.


Palm Valley Animal Society released their pet delivery service last week.  (Image source: Palm Valley Animal Society)



Animals at RSPCA NSW are only available for adoption via delivery service. (Image source: RSPCA New South Wales)


greyhound dog poster


(Image source: unknown)


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