As COVID-19 restrictions are loosening, animal shelters across the country are struggling to find fosters and adopters for their pets. Local pet shelter and resource center Gateway Pet Guardian’s (GPG) move to East St. Louis in 2020 has made them accessible to the community, leading to a substantial increase in homeless pets coming into their care recently, while foster applications are down by half. During the height of the pandemic, the animal welfare world saw a large increase in foster families and adopters since most people were staying home. “Last year was incredible for our animals,” GPG Adoption and Foster Manager Brittany Fleming said. “For almost four months, we had no animals at our shelter thanks to an increase in foster and adopter applications.”
With the increase in vaccinations, many people are going back to the office, returning to school, and taking vacations. With people no longer spending as much time at home, foster and adoption applications have dropped dramatically. Between a very strong kitten season (cat breeding season) and the organization becoming well-known in the area, GPG has seen nearly a 70 percent increase in their intake in June. GPG is concerned that they may have to start turning away dogs and cats in need if more foster parents do not start taking in foster pets.
“Foster families are so critical to helping dogs and cats in need,” Fleming said. “You are literally saving a life every time you foster a pet and without foster families, we would not be able to continue taking in such a high volume of dogs and cats. No experience is required to foster a pet and we provide all supplies and medical care.”