Finding a furry friend during the pandemic


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, animal shelters around the world have seen significant increases in people fostering and adopting pets. Those who had previously considered fostering an animal have suddenly found themselves with the time and availability to do so, while others have found that adopting a pet has helped to ease isolation and loneliness. 

Locally, both the Providence Animal Rescue League (PARL) and Providence Animal Control have reported an increase in adoptions, as well as in inquiries about adoptions. Cat adoptions are a priority for both organizations, as Rebecca Baylies, executive director at PARL, explained: “Kitten season is nearly upon us, meaning hundreds of kittens in Providence and beyond needing support and care.” 

In terms of fostering, Baylies reported that 65% of the animals in PARL’s care are in foster homes, and that the PARL team “is doing a great job of rotating animals … into the shelter for adoption appointments.” Baylies continued, “Our foster needs will continue in the coming weeks, and animal fostering is an important part of animal sheltering all year round, even in the absence of a pandemic.”

Erika Cole, director of Providence Animal Control, said the shelter is not currently looking for foster homes for their animals because “permanent adoptions are the goal.” But, she noted, “fostering for a rescue [organization] allows the rescue to pull more animals from us, [and] is a way to help indirectly.”

Cole added, “The best thing adopters can do is make sure that they are seeking a dog or cat that fits their old lifestyle and not this new, temporary normal, so that the [animal] and adopter are still a good match for when life as we knew it returns. This will decrease returns to shelters, which will likely be overwhelmed with animals when spay, neuter and adoptions begin again.”

Baylies echoed this sentiment, saying, “Once normal activity and public interactions return to a more normal level, we anticipate an immense surge in animals needing intake and care. Our spay/neuter, microchipping and vaccine services have been halted due to COVID-19 precautions, and we’ll be working hard to catch up, helping pets in our community and those who love them.”

She also said that “this stay-at-home mandate may be a great time to bring on a new furry family member,” since it gives people “enough time to acclimate the animal to family routines and get in

some high-quality bonding time.”

Both Baylies and Cole requested patience from new adopters, as shelters are still responding to evolving circumstances. Cole also advised that new adopters should “have enough food for whatever animal [they] are adopting, two to three months’ worth if possible, without hoarding.”

For those struggling to feed their pets, PARL’s Pet Food Pantry offers pet food and treats, as well as kitty litter. Donations of food and supplies are welcome.

PARL is currently open on Fridays and Saturdays by appointment only, with a 50% discount on adoption fees for animals older than six months. If you are interested in fostering an animal, email for more information. Pet owners who are interested in the Pet Food Pantry should call (401) 421-1399.

Providence Animal Control is currently closed to the public, but can be reached at (401) 243-6040; information on adopting their animals can be found at 

MICHAEL SCHEMAILLE ( writes for Jewish Rhode Island and the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island.