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COVID-19 causes spike in local pet adoptions

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published July 1, 2020

 Carolyn Roberts, of Warren, holds a kitten at a Petco location. The Meowtown Lounge, which is operated through Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren, offers animals for adoption.

Carolyn Roberts, of Warren, holds a kitten at a Petco location. The Meowtown Lounge, which is operated through Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren, offers animals for adoption.

Photo by Deb Jacques

 Pictured is a kitten available for adoption through the Meowtown Lounge, which is operated through Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren.

Pictured is a kitten available for adoption through the Meowtown Lounge, which is operated through Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — For all the heartbreak and upheaval that has come from COVID-19, some positives have also come as a result of the pandemic.

One of the bright spots has been animals being placed in homes with people who now have both the time and the access to properly care for them.

Michelle Tooroian is the president of Meowtown Lounge, which is operated through Pet Adoption Alternative of Warren, or PAAW, a nonprofit that adopts out cats and dogs.

“It’s been really, really busy with adoptions ever since the COVID thing, I think probably because more people are at home, so they have more time to spend with a new pet,” Tooroian said. “We’ve had a big increase in adoptions in the last month or two.”

Spending more time at home provided West Bloomfield resident Cory Taylor with an opportunity to adopt a dog, which she and her boyfriend did in May.

Although they initially found that “there was more demand than supply,” the couple was eventually able to adopt a puppy from the Animal Rescue Project in Kalamazoo.

Prior to the adoption, Taylor had never owned a dog, and she is keenly aware that it requires more time and effort than owning a cat.

“With a dog, there’s so much more work that needs to happen in the beginning, and that’s why the lockdown was perfect for this,” Taylor said. “We’ve been able to spend a lot of time with her, and (there’s) still training that needs to happen, because she is a very independent puppy. But she’s learning a lot. If we weren’t able to stay home with her, we would be a lot further behind.”

PAAW previously had animals for adoption at Pet Valu in West Bloomfield, but due to the pandemic, that is not currently an option for Meowtown Lounge. Tooroian is waiting to find out when the rescue can return to that location.

In the meantime, animals are being cared for in foster homes.

Those interested in adopting can make an appointment, and animals are available for viewing at a pet store location or at someone’s home.

The advantages of adopting a pet during the pandemic are similar to what they were prior to it.

“Mostly, it’s the companionship factor,” Tooroian said. “From a mental health perspective, I think it helps people to have a pet in the house, (an) animal they can come home to and spend time with. That’s the main thing.”

The benefits of owning a dog can be both physical and mental.

“We’ve been going on long walks, now twice a day,” Taylor said. “It’s kind (of) taken our mind off the craziness of the world, if only for a few minutes every day. Having a little wet nose pop up underneath your elbow while you’re trying to eat dinner can be annoying, but it’s also pretty adorable. … It’s been a good thing.”

Cats have previously been more likely to be adopted than dogs through the Meowtown Lounge, but lately Tooroian has noticed a shift.

“The last month or two, there’s been a huge increase in dog adoptions because people are home more, and I think people feel like dogs maybe take more adjustment than cats,” she said. “So, there’s been a big spike in dogs in the last month or two. But both dogs and cats have been finding homes in the last couple months.”

As much as Tooroian wants animals to find homes, she prefers that people do their due diligence before deciding to adopt.

“I would make sure to do your research,” she said. “If you’re getting a dog, do breed research and find out what the characteristics are of a certain breed of dog. If you’re getting a cat, do your research on cats and what the needs are for adopting a cat.”

According to Tooroian, the cost to adopt a cat can range between $125 and $150, with dogs ranging between $150 and $300, depending on whether it’s a puppy or an adult.

Prior to adoption, animals are spayed or neutered.

Also included in the price are rabies and distemper vaccines, heartworm tests for dogs, and feline leukemia tests for cats.

Animals are also implanted with microchips so they can be reunited with owners, should they go missing.

Those interested in learning more about animals for adoption via the Meowtown Lounge or PAAW can call (586) 825-3350, send an email to meowtownlounge@gmail.com or visit paawarren.org.

Aside from adoption, there is another way people can contribute.

“We need supplies,” Tooroian said.

Items that can be donated include canned cat food, cat litter, and dry and canned dog food.

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