7 On Your Side: What to know before adopting a pandemic pet

NEW YORK (WABC) -- In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdowns, the sale and adoption of pets are said to be at an all-time high in the area. But before you jump on the bandwagon and add to your family, there are several factors to consider.

The conditions at high-kill shelters in the south will break your heart. Puppies are barely fed, living in waste and diseased. The dogs are on death row until they're rescued.

"This is not a shelter, this is a rescue," said Stacy Miller. "This is rescuing them from things you can't imagine humanity can do to another living, breathing soul."

Miller is a kennel technician with Home for Good Dog Rescue and has seen it all.

"They're in deplorable, horrible conditions," HFGDR founder Toni Ann Turco said. "They're discarded and thrown out because no one wants them."

But, there is some good news. Up north in New York and New Jersey, puppies and dogs are in demand.

"As you can imagine, everyone's fighting (to get a puppy). It's very competitive, basically it's like winning the lottery," said Thomas White of HFGDR.

At Home for Good Dog Rescue, within minutes of being posted, the pups are already paired with prospective adopters.

The Sullivan County SPCA and Gimme Shelter in the Hamptons say they've never been busier too - with 75 applications for every puppy, and people waiting weeks to be selected.

"Which is a good problem to have, we hope that the problem keeps up even after the pandemic," Turco said.

And that's without Home for Good Dog Rescue holding one of their in-person puppy meet and greets, which are normally held at local Pet Smart stores in the area.

The reason for the puppy popularity? Turco attributes it to anxiousness for companionship during quarantine.

And popularity sometimes spurs scams - two families came to 7 On Your Side and shared their swindle stories after making two mistakes: falling in love online and then sending thousands off to strangers via Zelle - who stole their money and never delivered the dogs.

Remember - you should always insist on seeing the pet in person before paying.

And work with a reputable, preferably local, rescue or adoption organization.

But before moving forward, ask yourself if you can afford the expense of a pet.

"This isn't a pandemic distraction having a dog," White said. "It's a 15-year commitment, you have to be prepared to have the dog its entire life."

7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda applied over a month ago at the rescue where Michelle Charlesworth, Amy Freeze and Heather O'Rourke adopted Preshos, Sunny and Bones

After a long wait to move to the top of the list, Pineda now has a new member of the family.



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