New York City Is Not Running Out Of Adoptable Pets, Shelter Says

Adoptions and fosters are on the rise during the coronavirus pandemic, but there are still animals in need of homes.

There’s no “shortage” of adoptable pets in the New York City area, the nonprofit that operates the local municipal shelter system wants to clarify amid reports suggesting otherwise.

“NO SHORTAGE!” Katy Hansen, spokesperson for Animal Care Centers of NYC, told HuffPost in an email. “Sure we don’t have puppies or teacup poodles but we are getting animals in every day and we anticipate a surge in the coming weeks.”

On Wednesday, Bloomberg News said New York was “running out of dogs to adopt” in a headline for a story citing two animal rescue groups experiencing surges in applications. The headline was changed later the same day to say the city was “running out of dogs to foster” ― referring more specifically to giving animals a place to stay outside of a shelter before they can be adopted permanently.

In many cases, shelters pay for food, supplies and veterinary care for animals in foster homes.

As the coronavirus pandemic keeps many people stuck at home and isolated, there's been a huge surge in the numbers of people fostering or adopting pets.
As the coronavirus pandemic keeps many people stuck at home and isolated, there's been a huge surge in the numbers of people fostering or adopting pets.
Linda Raymond via Getty Images

In the wake of the coronavirus, animal shelters facing staffing shortages and closures to the public have put out calls for large numbers of foster homes. So while NYCACC has fewer cats, dogs, rabbits and guinea pigs in its physical shelters than usual (about 35 animals, as of Wednesday), it has 300 animals in foster homes.

Those animals are still up for adoption unless a person fostering decides to adopt permanently. Plus, Hansen added, NYCACC would love to see some of the animals still in the shelter ― particularly the larger dogs ― go to foster homes for the time being.

The Bloomberg story circulated widely before its headline changed, spurring some to exaggerate its reporting. While Bloomberg didn’t claim all New York City shelters were totally empty or that the city was “out” of animals, some people started characterizing the situation that way on social media or blogs.

Hansen fears people may interpret what they’ve seen on social media to mean they shouldn’t even bother to try to adopt, a misconception she wants to correct.

She noted that NYCACC is going through the process of making sure its website lists adoptable pets currently in foster care, not just those at shelters. (She also noted that potential adopters must make appointments ahead of time to see animals due to the coronavirus pandemic.)

Additionally, multiple animal rescue groups in New York have continued to post about animals up for adoption in recent days.

Animals are still arriving at shelters and rescue facilities, and will likely continue to do so as the pandemic continues. Shelters nationwide have been bracing for a possible influx of animals if people can’t afford to care for their pets or get hospitalized and don’t have an alternative place for their furry companion to go.

And while New York City is not out of adoptable animals, there’s still plenty of reason to feel warm and fuzzy over the many people who have come forward to help animals out in a scary time.

“The city’s really come to our aid,” Hansen said.

Note: This reporter has previously volunteered at NYCACC’s Brooklyn location.