Pet adoptions and the pandemic

Olivia Palacios

The pet industry has evolved quite a bit since the 1800s. According to, it wasn’t until the 19th century in England that dogs were popularly domesticated. Before then, dogs lived outside. 

When it comes to family pets, things sure have changed: not only are they living indoors, but many are equipped with orthopedic beds, outfits and human-grade food. Recently, beloved pets are getting even more attention. The annual $96 billion pet industry saw the biggest growth in 2020 due to COVID-19 with adoptions being its biggest source of income. 

Adoptions have elevated immensely in 2020, so much so that for the first time ever, shelters have been completely wiped clean of dogs and cats.  

Block Club Chicago reported, “Every animal was adopted from Chicago Animal Care and Control this week for the first time in its history — and shelters throughout the city have seen a similar outpouring of support during the pandemic.” 

Dogs and cats were not only adopted from shelters, but from breeders too. According to the ASPCA,  “[American Pet Products Association] reports that 34% of dogs are purchased from breeders, while 23% of dogs and 31% of cats are obtained from an animal shelter or humane society.” 

Many families welcomed a new pet during the stay at home order because they were spending more time at home. The commitment of pet ownership is not a small one. Preparing for a new pet requires planning to properly raise a new member of the family. 

Several students from Nazareth Academy adopted pets during the pandemic, like Sophomore Vasilios Karavitis who adopted a German Shepherd from a family friend. Karavitis said, “We got her food, toys, all that type of stuff; making sure she has a place to sleep.”

“Mostly, I’m the one who has to take care of her, my dad feeds her, but I’m the one who takes her out, takes care of her; I end up waking up earlier to take her out,” Karavitis added. Having a schedule is critical for a new pet, without one, training and potty accidents can cause owners frustration, sometimes ending a poor relationship or even deciding to let the pet go.

Not many returns or owner surrenders have occurred in 2020 compared to numbers in 2019. President and Founder of Magnificent Mutts and Meows Rescue, Linda Hansen Latelle said, “I do feel there will be some returns.” In the last six months, 540 dogs and 147 cats have been adopted at Magnificent Mutts and Meows Rescue. 

Latelle added, “Covid was a blessing in one way.” In March of 2020 there was a dramatic increase of foster applications. Latelle said, “Everyone wanted to foster puppies or a young dog, they thought it would be fun. Then when people started going back to work and e-learning, they stopped fostering because they no longer had time. Fostering is almost back to normal, but we can’t save animals if we don’t have foster homes.”  

Even if you are not able to foster or adopt a pet, there are other ways to help. Magnificent Mutts and Meows is accepting donations of good quality adult dog food. If you are interested in learning more about peT adoption, visit Magnificent Mutts and Meows at and the Hinsdale Humane Society at