New York City "Doesn't Have Any Dogs Left To Foster" In Latest COVID-19-Related Shortage

There's been shortages of all types as New York City deals with the unprecedented lockdown as a result of the coronavirus. But one of the most surprising of these shortages has been dogs and cats.

There's been a "run on pets" in the city, according to Bloomberg, ostensibly as lonely New Yorkers realize they're going to be locked inside without anyone to monopolize the conversation with or boss around. So, many of them have adopted fostered animals. 

Shelters in the city say they have received a surge in applications that is as much as "10-fold" their normal rates. New Yorkers apparently see owning pets as a way to calm their nerves during a difficult time. And this means that pets are finding new, and hopefully happy, homes at a record rate.

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

Shares of pet-related companies have been surging during the pandemic, as well. Online pet supplier Chewy.com has seen shares rise 7% this year, despite the market's near 30% pullback. Its delivery lead times have been extended to between 7 and 10 days for most customers. 

RBC Capital Markets said in a report: “Chewy’s in-home delivery model mitigates the public health concern of consumers shopping at brick-and-mortar retailers.”

PetMed Express is another name that's been outperforming. Its shares are up more than 7% during the S&P's decline.

And the run on pets seems to extend itself far beyond New York. For example, The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in LA says they have seen a 70% increase in animals going to foster care, also. Julie Castle, chief executive officer of Best Friends said: “We’re seeing people show up in droves to foster.”

But rescue organizations are also worried the opposite will happen once the pandemic is over or the economy plunges further. They fear they could see a rise in surrendered pets. 

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

But one Washington D.C. couple said the time was opportunistic for them to welcome a new member to the family. Tom Drescher and his wife, Becky Nolin said: “It occurred to us it would be a good time to adopt a dog because we’d have the time and bandwidth to help it settle in. It’s been a blast for us so far -- we’ve been thrilled to have her.”