Andy Kostka of Rockville always wanted to own a dog but the recent college graduate faced one big hurdle: his parents suffer from allergies and were worried that having a pet in the house would only exacerbate their problems. However, with the family now hunkering down at home during the coronavirus epidemic, they decided to take the plunge in March. The result: a match made in heaven.
Andy contacted his local animal shelter, the Montgomery County Animal Services and Adoption Center, MCASAC, to see what was available. That is when he found Parks, an underweight mixed-breed German Shepherd puppy who was found abandoned on the street. Following the MCASAC’s protocol, Andy agreed to foster his dog for a short time to see if the pet was a good fit for his family. After a few short weeks Andy reported that everyone in his home was in love with Parks, and he formerly adopted Parks on April 2nd. According to Andy, “Having a dog has made me so much happier during this difficult time.”
Another animal adopted locally during Covid-19 from MCASAC is a seven-year old Himalayan cat named Cici. Her owner, Erika Jenkins, reports that “I’m so thrilled with her. She’s such a sweet girl and has opened up so much already ... Thanks for letting me give this lovely girl a home. I’m enjoying her so much.”
Andy and Erika's experiences are not unique; People around the country are discovering that now is the perfect time to take in a furry friend to be a companion during isolation.
According to Maria Anselmo, who handles press and media relations for MCASAC, “It is amazing how many in the community have reached out to foster, including the huge increase in the number of dogs. Normally we have three or four dogs in foster homes and twenty cats. Now we have twenty-eight dogs in these homes and seventy-nine different cats.” When the shelter closed in March they partnered with Friends of Montgomery County Animals, FMCA, to arrange for adoptions when foster parents decide to keep their pet on a permanent basis.
All applicants undergo a residency check, vet verification, and virtual interview/virtual home visit prior to approval. According to Linda McMakin, who volunteers with FMCA, the virtual interviews have gone very well.
Another important non-profit partner with Montgomery County’s pet shelter is the Montgomery County Partners for Animal Well-Being, MCPAW. According to Anselmo, MCPAW’s assistance has been essential in helping animals who come to the shelter who need immediate emergency care. Through their veterinary medical fund, which is supported by donations, they have paid for animals to have surgeries for medical issues ranging from torn ACLs to heart and abdominal problems.
Wendy Walker, DVM, is the Chief of Staff of Town & Country Animal Clinic in Olney. She has seen a huge surge of people rescuing and purchasing animals in her clinic but also notes that often new puppies need basic puppy training that isn't available now except online. She cautions that potential dog owners need to consider two things before they adopt: First, they should look at their budget when they decide to adopt because big dogs can more expensive. Just their routine care and medications can cost more than those of smaller dogs. Second, one of the downsides of being home all day with a new dog is that when the owners go back to work dogs can suffer from separation anxiety. Doggy day care is one option for dogs who suddenly have no one at home and conferring with the dog's veterinarian can also be a good idea.