The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday May 17th

Students are fostering and adopting pets during social distancing

Puppies play in their pen at the Orange County Animal Services building on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. OCAS recently took in about 60 dogs and created a GoFundMe to help fund their medical expenses.
Buy Photos Puppies play in their pen at the Orange County Animal Services building on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.

A stay-at-home order may leave you feeling a little lonely — and some UNC students have found solace in adopting or fostering a furry friend. 

Rebekah Appleton, a graduate student in the school of government, began fostering a cat from Neshama Animal Rescue in Raleigh several weeks ago.

“I live alone and thought having a cat around would make it less lonely,” Appleton said. “The best part is having something to keep my mind off of everything going on right now. It can be overwhelming and it’s nice to have another living thing for comfort.” 

Pam Geiger, who works for Meow House Cat Rescue, said adoptions and fosters have gone up recently. In order to uphold social distancing measures, Meow House has conducted virtual meet and greets for those interested in adopting cats. They have also allowed in-home trials for those who prefer to meet their cat in person before adopting it. 

“We are overwhelmed with both foster applications and adoption applications,” Geiger said. “I think a lot of people are realizing it’s a good time to foster or adopt because they’re going to be home and they have the time to invest.” 

The past several weeks have put Meow House in an interesting situation, Geiger said, as they are receiving more foster applications than cats they have to foster out. 

“This is a good place to be, but it’s an unusual place to be,” Geiger said. “We had a cat that we hadn’t fostered for five years that got adopted in the last couple weeks.” 

Samantha Zielinski, a junior studying psychology and communication studies, recently adopted a goldendoodle puppy with her family. 

Since the entire family is home, Zielinski said they figured now would be the best time to adopt because they have an indefinite amount of time at home to devote to training him. 

Tenille Fox, communications specialist for Orange County Animal Services, said the shelter has made some changes in regards to COVID-19. 

“We have to keep our animals flowing through the shelter, and so we’re continuing adoptions and are closed to the public unless you have made an appointment in advance,” Fox said.

Like Meow House, the animal shelter is doing virtual meet and greets. In these meetings, animals are streamed over video and those interested in adopting can go over all the questions they have regarding adoptions. 

Fox said the shelter has a high adoption rate at the moment. Many people have offered to foster, she said, and everyone wants to help out.

“We would not be where we are without people in our community, so we’re really fortunate,” Fox said. 

Fox passed on a request from the Orange County Animal Services, asking people to delay surrendering an animal to the shelter at this time — unless it’s an urgent or emergency situation. The shelter is unsure at the moment of how it will proceed in the near future and how staffing will pan out, so they are aiming to keep the numbers as low as possible. 

“If you find a stray animal, if there’s any way you can hold onto that animal temporarily instead of turning them over to the shelter during this time that would really help,” Fox said. 

But Fox said if there is an emergency situation for Orange County residents, "we’re here.” 

First-year environmental studies major Ella Thomas has been a longtime supporter of fostering animals. 

She began fostering kittens three years ago after finding out that kittens under eight weeks old and living in shelters are frequently euthanized in the United States. 

“Now more than ever it is so important for all shelter animals, not just kittens, to be in foster homes,” Thomas said. 

She said that with just a few weeks of time and care, kittens are able to transition from a period of being highly vulnerable to being adoptable by families. 

“Signing up for fostering can help take pressure off your local shelter, help care for an animal that’s in need, and maybe bring a newfound passion,” Thomas said. 

 Local shelters and rescues that are accepting foster and adoption applications include:

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