NORTH SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Throughout the pandemic, families have been flooding to shelters and adopting pets, making it hard to keep up.

Now, a year-long concern is coming to a head. The staff at Helping Hounds Dog Rescue are starting to see a handful of dogs come back, in search once again for their forever home.

“It’s been crazy trying to keep up with the demand of the dogs.”

Lisa Somers, animal care supervisor at Helping Hounds

Pre-pandemic, dogs were staying for an average of eight to 10 days. Now, they’re averaging a one-day adoption rate.

“Everyone’s like, it’s a good time to get a dog. We’re home with it, we can train it, spend time with it,” said Somers.

With so much time spent at home, it’s a great time to adopt. But what happens when the hundreds of new pet parents go back to work full time?

“It’s always been in the back of our minds, are we going to start seeing an increase in returns,” wondered Somers.

They’ve already seen a few. Somers says they’ll take dogs back if it’s not the right fit because they want them to be in their forever home, one with a supportive environment and a lifestyle that gives them enough exercise.

Before you rush to bring them back though, Somers has some tips for you and your dog to adjust to life after the pandemic. It’s all about structure!

Start leaving your dog alone in short increments so he knows that you’re coming back. Then start leaving him alone for longer increments so one day you’re not home all day and the next day you’re gone for 8 hours.

Lisa Somers

Other important pieces of a dog’s daily structure are:

  • Exercise
  • Training
  • Socialization
  • Playtime
  • Routine

Somers says one of the best things for a dog is a long walk before you go to work and another long one when you get home. But exercise can be fun too. It can be a simple game of fetch.

“A tired dog is a good dog.”

lisa somers

If you can’t tire them out yourself, she encourages daycare or dog walkers. Over time, you and your dog will adjust to a new structure.

“They love routine, they live by routine. They know they get up in the morning, they go out, they eat, they go back out. Maybe they have, you know, some chew time in the afternoon,” said Somers.

Dogs love to make you happy. So, as stressed as you are to go back to work, they don’t want to see you go.

Dogs are companion animals. They have huge hearts, they wanna be with you. They’re just your best friend. They have feelings. They feel alone, they feel happy, they feel sad.

Lisa Somers

The pandemic has led to another trend, one that’s not so positive. While adoptions have gone up, donations have stalled.

Helping Hounds counts on community donations so the staff can keep their dogs healthy and adoption-ready.

They’re always looking for food, collars, leashes, beds, and toys.

They do not take blankets, towels, or sheets.

If you’d like to donate, click here to learn more.