During the current period of enforced isolation and social distancing, you may be craving warmth, companionship and plain old physical closeness. You may yearn to snuggle on the couch, feel valued and talk honestly about your practical problems and deep anxieties.

Did you know dogs are attentive listeners?

Animal shelters are among the many industries adapting to coronavirus regulations and stay-at-home orders. If you’re considering adopting or fostering a pet, you can do most of the groundwork online. Has the prospect occurred to you? Why not get a pet?

If you think YouTube cat videos are a treat, imagine a live performance all day, every day. Granted, a lot of the spectacle will involve sleeping. But as TV personality Jane Pauley once noted, “You can’t look at a sleeping cat and be tense.” An important note: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “We do not have evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19.”

If you aren’t ready for a permanent arrangement, you can take a pet on a temporary basis, known as fostering. That frees shelter space and allows the animal to get used to life in a real home. If you’re new to pet ownership, or not quite sure, you can think of this arrangement as a trial run to learn whether it’s right for you. At worst, you’ll serve as a bridge between the dog or cat and its permanent placement. At best, you’ll fall hopelessly in love.

Not only might this be a perfect time for people to adopt or foster, it may be a time when saviors are especially needed. In periods of economic trouble, it’s not unusual to see an increase in the number of animals being handed over by owners or simply dumped by the side of the road.

Owners who are quarantined or hospitalized by COVID-19 may be unable to care for their pets or to find someone else to do it.

If you decide to take on this humane task, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you made a worthwhile contribution during a time of national crisis. And, from the animal you take in, you’ll get an endless supply of gratitude.

— Chicago Tribune

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