OCEAN COUNTY, NJ – If animals could talk, they might offer a different viewpoint on their experiences amid the pandemic. Many would brag they enjoyed more encounters with their humans. A whole host of former occupants of Ocean County animal shelters would likely credit COVID-19 with connecting them with fur-ever homes and families.

 “The two Ocean County Animal Facilities (OCAF) have had people adopt for a variety of reasons, but the biggest certainly has to do with so many being home and having the free time to spend bonding, training, and acclimating the pet to their new home,” shared Daniel Regenye, Ocean County Health Department Health Coordinator/Health Officer.

“For a shelter cat or dog, it just doesn’t get any better than that,” Regenye continued.

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Canines and felines alike reveled in another phenomenon as their owners dealt with various aspects of the pandemics. Pets themselves experienced a sharp decline in evictions from their regular homes.

According to the Ocean County Health Department (OCHD), 640 more pets were impounded last year when compared to the same time this year. Humans also seemed less inclined to surrender their animals.

“One of the reasons we keep hearing about this has to do with people wanting to hold on to their pets.  They felt they were losing so much due to the pandemic, and they just didn’t want to give up anymore - especially their beloved cat or dog,” said Brian Lippai, OCHD Public Information Officer.

Lippai added that the pandemic provided more opportunities for people to get assistance in keeping their pets. Several rescue groups and organizations anticipated the pandemic creating this issue and were prepared to help.

Technology stepped in to play a role in the pet adoption process. Cats and dogs vied for the spotlight on the Ocean County Health Department’s Facebook page.  And it’s also become easy to virtually meet prospective furry additions online.

No doubt that animals in search of homes appreciate Petfinder.com, which operates similarly to dating sites. Both the Ocean County Animal Facility in Jackson and the one in Manahawkin put up photographs and bios of available pets.

A date to meet in person requires an appointment in advance to see if a connection is made. Rescues make no bones about putting their best paws forward when it comes to their input in the process. It’s often more than a simple woof or meow that results in an exchange of affection.

Both cats and dogs bring their share of comfort into Ocean County homes. The pandemic created different types of stress for everyone. A pet represents a source of snuggles and amusement, as well as a distraction.

Animals are less than subtle when it comes to reminding their humans they are hungry.  Even the most subdued canine thinks its owner needs exercise. Dog parks, like the one just opened in Waretown provide a social atmosphere for those who want to meet up with friends.

Social distancing and quarantines continue to have little negative impact on family pets. Rumor has it that the togetherness made for the tastiest of treats.

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