Pandemic unleashes rise in animal adoptions, fosters

Grass Roots Rescue had 18 dogs adopted last week. (Submitted photo/Grass Roots Rescue)

MILTON — Delaware’s stay at home order has been a win for pets looking for new homes.

Adoptions and fosters are up as people have more time at home to welcome a new member to their household during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“People are looking for something good to do,” said Reinie Thompson, the board president of Grass Roots Rescue, based in Milton. “They’re looking for something good in the world. Adopting a new pet who is in need is definitely something good in the world. Helping an animal who needs help, makes you feel good especially when the world is not in the best place.”

Grass Roots Rescue had 18 dogs adopted last week alone. It is an all-foster dog rescue organization and Ms. Thompson said Grass Roots Rescue has seen a large increase in its foster volunteers.

“We’ve seen a definite uptick in both adoptions and fosters,” said Ms. Thompson. “We’re around 20 adoptions a week which is a great number for us. We have over 100 fosters currently volunteer groups so there’s been a huge growth in that.”

Ramsey, one of the dogs currently available for adoption from Grass Roots Rescue. (Submitted photo/Grass Roots Rescue)

Grass Roots Rescue has applications on its website for those interested in adopting or fostering.

First State Animal Center and SPCA in Camden ( is processing applications via email only . Visits are set by appointment only between the hours of noon to 6 p.m. on Tuesdays to Fridays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.

The Brandywine Valley SPCA’s Dover and Georgetown locations are still operating with slightly adjusted hours and distancing and other safety protocols in place. The Dover shelter (302-601-7000) and the Georgetown shelter (302-856-6361) are open from noon to 6 p.m. Tuesday to Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

All adoption events and open houses are currently canceled. Grass Roots Rescue usually has two events per weekend and it also had to postpone its largest fundraiser of the year to Oct. 24.

Ms. Thompson said she wasn’t sure at first how the virus would affect adoptions.

“I think there was a lot of fear on how pets could transfer the virus,” Ms. Thompson said. “There were rumors that dogs could be infected with it at first and that would have really inhibited what we do and how we help animals.”

The biggest adjustment was figuring out how those interested could meet their new pet first with the foster family, while maintaining proper social distancing.

“You want everyone to feel comfortable,” Ms. Thompson said. “It was a big learning curve for us to set up meetings and follow all the guidelines.”

With so many spending time at home during the last few months, when people do head back to the office after the pandemic it could be difficult for new pet parents. Ms. Thompson said Grass Roots Rescue is educating its new parents on how to deal with the pet’s possible separation anxiety.

“We’re going to continue to do what we’ve always done,” Ms. Thompson said. “We’re going to continue to help the animals in need.”

Helpful Coronavirus links

Delaware Division of Health Coronavirus Page
CDC: About the Coronavirus Disease 2019
CDC: What to do if You Are Sick
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center
AP News Coronavirus Coverage
Reopening Delaware: Resources for Businesses
Delaware Phase 2 guidance

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