NYC coronavirus outbreak leads to shortage of foster dogs, cats

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As New York City quickly becomes the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States, the city is experiencing a shortage most people are OK with: cats and dogs.

The city’s animal shelters are experiencing an uptick in adoption and pet foster applications as millions of bored New Yorkers are stuck at home amid a government-ordered lockdown. Animal rescue groups Muddy Paws Rescue and Best Friends Animal Society told Bloomberg News that shelters they work with are almost out of cats and dogs after a surge in interest in the past two weeks.

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“For the moment we definitely don’t have any dogs left to match,” said Anna Lai, marketing director at Muddy Paws. “Which is a great problem to have.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order last week urging residents to work from home unless they are considered essential workers. The statewide mandate is an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

However, some rescue groups are worried the uptick in pet adoptions could lead to an increase in surrendered pets if people lose their jobs amid the crisis.

“We’re doing whatever we can to empty all of our shelter facilities,” Lisa LaFontaine, chief executive officer of the Humane Rescue Alliance, told the news outlet. “We don’t know what’s going to happen when the economic wave starts hitting.”

The interest in four-legged friends extends beyond New York. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) said its Los Angeles office saw a 70 percent increase in animals going into foster care, according to Bloomberg.

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Pet supplier Chewy, Inc., is also reaping the benefits at a time when many businesses are suffering the economic impacts of the virus. The company saw its stock up 7 percent so far this year.