Watch Out of Office on our YouTube Channel

Larissa Wohl’s Top Tips for Pet Adoption during COVID-19

I don’t know about you, but all this time in isolation, and the sudden onset of amazing weather has really had me – and many people I know – thinking about pet adoption.

Like anything else that is a long-term commitment, it’s imperative that you do your research, explore your options and make the best possible decision. So why not get the best possible advice from the on-air Pet Rescue Expert herself, Larissa Wohl.

Larissa works tirelessly to be the voice of the wee, sweet voiceless and save the underdogs (and cats!) of the world. Her recognition as an advocate for animal adoption even gained her three Emmy Award nominations. All this to say, that she’s the real deal. Here are her tips, tricks and best practices if you (and by that, I mean me) are thinking of creating a home for a furry one. 

Okay, say I’ve decided to get a dog… where do I begin? 

Unfortunately, there are a lot of people who impulsively rescue or adopt and then a couple of days later say, ‘oh my gosh, what did I get myself into?’ Fill out a questionnaire and really think about what’s right for you. With our social restrictions and COVID-19, it’s very convenient to bring a dog into your house. However, when things go back to normal – hopefully soon – it won’t be as convenient. So my first tip is to really think through if getting a dog sounds great right now because it’s a huge commitment.

If you’ve decided yes, this is the right time to adopt, I would say to start with your local shelter because – sadly, county and city shelters are the first to euthanize animals. Right now many shelters are only doing appointment-based adoption. Even though it’s a little bit more challenging don’t let that stop you. Another option is to research rescue organizations in your area. These groups are different from shelters in that they are private, nonprofit groups that will take in owner surrenders and stray animals. 

There are wonderful websites like Petfinder where you can literally type in your postal code, the type of breed you want, what age, what gender, and it will populate animals in your area that fit those criteria. Most of them will have an application process and may want to talk to you on the phone. They might want to do a virtual home visit to make sure that your home is safe. Don’t take that personally. They all do it for peace of mind because these are babies that they’re giving to you, and they just want to make sure they’re doing their responsible due diligence.

If you’re serious about pet adoption, this is the best time to do it.

I love anybody and everybody who has rescued an animal. While care facilities and access to them during the pandemic is definitely a little bit more challenging, a work-from-home set-up is ideal for the enrichment of your new pet. Time spent bonding is so very key. Whether you’re home and you have the time to be with your dog, or you’re home, and you’re working, simply being with your dog, going on walks and exploring new areas is how they learn their world and understand your surroundings, so allow them to do that. 

So you’ve adopted your dog. Start working on boundaries. 

I say this for a multitude of reasons but mostly because we’re at home right now. When life picks up back to normal, we’re not going to have time to dedicate to laying that foundation for little routines and training with our newly adopted animals. Form that human-to-animal connection, work with your dog, train your dog, repeat commands, and then give them treats as a reward when they do so. All of that is good for them and makes them feel safe and makes them turn to you. A lot of people unfortunately look at any kind of training or disciplinary action as being mean or unfair, and I get it, but it’s actually the opposite. 

It all goes back to that enrichment word, doing basic training, whether it’s sit, stay, calm down, silly stuff, or whatever uses their brain, they have to figure out what you’re saying, and you get to teach them how to get there. 

This will be a very important decision in your life.

Moments you share with your pet always include love and comic relief. It makes life less heavy. And it also makes you get up and get out. You can’t just wallow in whatever you’re dealing with. You have to go for walks every day. You have to smile and wave at neighbours. Oftentimes other people with dogs – especially on your block – stop and chit chat, even. So it’s also helpful with social stuff and can lead to such an understanding of life through these animals’ eyes. 

You learn so much more about patience, and dealing with different personalities by helping the underdogs – or under-humans – of the world when you rescue an animal because you have to sometimes stop yourself and think of life through their eyes. If you’re trying to get them to do something or not do something and if they’re not listening, sometimes you have to change your approach and kind of think outside the box for a second and understand why they’re doing something or not doing it the way you look at life. To me there is nothing more fulfilling. 

If you don’t find your perfect pup today, be patient – there’s one out there for you.

For people who are interested in adopting right now, especially because of the crisis and how it’s changing how things are being done, a lot of people will get frustrated with how tedious the process can be. I would urge people to remember that the ripple effects of this pandemic are going to be ongoing, especially when it comes to animals – because people, as they have lost money or continue to lose money or have to take pay cuts to their job, they’re not going to be able to afford their animals. So long story short, if you can’t find the animal and your dreams today, keep the search up because in the next – I would say even year – there are going to be so many animals that are going to need our help. Don’t get frustrated if it’s not the right time, keep it up. 

Is it too early for me to create my pet Instagram page? Thank you for the sage advice, Larissa.

Danai Mushayandebvu

Danai is usually scrolling through Instagram in search of new restaurants, things to do and places to be. While she has no formal dance training whatsoever, she hopes to be part of a professional hip-hop troupe someday. You can follow her escapades @dnizzler