Getting along famously
Wade is settling in with his new family in Montara and getting lots of love from June Atkinson. Photo courtesy Scott Atkinson

The Stevens family knows about adopting rescue animals. With the addition of two dogs right before Bay Area counties issued shelter-in-place rules, they now have four rescue dogs in their home in Half Moon Bay.

Janet Stevens and her family adopted two dogs from Lily's Legacy Senior Dog Sanctuary in Petaluma just as shelter-in-place orders went into effect in San Mateo County. They are Shep, a 7-year-old skittish shepherd, and Goose, a 12-year-old Labrador. Stevens lives with her daughter Jenny and her husband, Brian Dean, and their kids, Natalie, 15, and Eric, 12.

“It's good that so many pet adoptions are occurring during this terrible virus spread,” Stevens wrote in an email to the Review. “Pets can bring a lot of joy, fun and distraction when everyone's trying to adjust to SIP. I only hope that the families that adopt them realize that they're not just adopting a temporary distraction but taking on responsibility for a living, loving creature who deserves a lifetime of care and love.”

Across the Bay Area, animal shelters and foster homes are still getting many adoption requests. Institutions like the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA in Burlingame are noticing that people have more time on their hands and are looking for a form of companionship. From March 15 to May 15, the nonprofit adopted out 294 animals.

“I would say that’s about average for that timeframe, but considering there’s a shelter-in-place and we’ve limited our adoption hours and the number of people who can come into our shelter, that’s a pretty significant number,” said Buffy Tarbox, the nonprofit’s communications manager.

The SPCA has fewer animals to adopt. This has led to some of the shelter’s longer-term resident animals finally finding a home. Last month, the shelter had two cats adopted who had been there for nearly three years.

“I think in the past when we had a lot more cats on the floor available for adoptions, these two might have been overlooked,” Tarbox said. “But now there are so few, and people are taking a deeper look at our animals.”

Though data on ZIP code-specific adoptions was not available, Tarbox said the Penninsula Humane Society has seen adopters from all over the Bay Area.

For the Atkinson family of Montara, the shelter-in-place order provided a long-awaited opportunity. Scott Atkinson, who grew up with Labs, had been wanting a dog for a long time. Knowing he and his wife would be working from home and taking care of June, their 2-year-old daughter, he thought the time was right to make the investment. Atkinson wanted a dog that would appreciate the trails on Montara Mountain and be a loving companion for his daughter. He was surprised when his online research led him to the perfect fit: Wade, a 5-year-old retired hunting dog in Paradise. He picked him up from American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue.

“We chose to do it now because I thought, if I do it now, I’d be able to acclimate the dog into this household a little bit easier than we normally would,” Atkinson said.

Nicole Shamrock-Thomas of Half Moon Bay fosters dogs full time for Love and Second Chances, a nonprofit based in San Ramon that supports in-need dogs across the state. She’s also seen an uptick in adoption requests from Coastsiders.

She began fostering two 8-week-old puppies on March 18. The dogs, named Abbot and Costello, were given to Love and Second Chances by a homeless man in Fresno. Abbot, now named Vega, was recently taken in by a family down the street from her.

Shamrock-Thomas noted that since the shelter-in-place orders, the fostering and adoption process has changed with the times. Instead of a typical home visit, she receives videos from applicants detailing the dog’s potential home, complete with everything from the yard setup to where the dogs will sleep. She suggested it makes sense that adoptions are in high demand since many people plan to continue to work from home.

“People are realizing now they might have a little more time than they had previously considered,” she said. “It does make me nervous about what’s going to happen when all these people go back to work, but as a foster parent for these dogs, I’m hoping I can do my due diligence and pick these guys homes that will be successful.” 

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