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Dog Training Expert Offers Tips, Advice For Keeping Pets Busy As People Prepare To Return To Work

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Stay-at-home orders sparked a frenzy of fostering and adopting pets across the tri-state area in the spring, but now as people head back to work and school, those furry friends are getting left behind.

Dog trainer Kristen Dunneman says she has been especially busy recently.

"I call it the puppy pandemic," Dunneman, owner of Blue Butterfly Dog Training, told CBS2's Vanessa Murdock.

Dunneman is in the business of educating not just the pups, but her clients too.

"When we go back to work and we back to school, how are we going to keep our puppies busy? How are we gonna keep these dogs we rescued busy?" asked Dunneman.

It's an adjustment for our furry friends, too. Dunneman offers the following tips:

  • Start leaving the house in small increments to get them used to your absence
  • Make sure they have lots to do when you leave
  • Consider a dog walker for extra exercise

For some pet parents, the situation changed so dramatically that surrendering their pet became the only option. That was the case for 2-year-old Loki.

"His mom had died of COVID and it just broke our heart," said Michele Nash of Airmont bout the 2-year-old golden retriever

Nash says that Loki completes their family. She adopted him at Hudson Valley Humane Society.

President Ann Marie Goudio says their COVID-related surrenders include a bunny, birds and water fowl. At least three dozen ducks and chicks landed at Hudson Valley Humane Society.

"[They go,] 'Oh, what a great idea. We're home, this will give us something to take care of, someone to be a companion, it'll be adorable,'" Goudio said. "Well, they grow up."


Other furry friends have even sadder stories, like Princess, whose owner lost her job.

"They're going from a private home or a condo or something into a rental that doesn't allow an animal and they don't have a choice," Goudio said.

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If you should find yourself in a situation where keeping your pet seems impossible, Goudio offers this advice.

"Get in touch with organization you got your animal from sooner rather than later," she said.

Despite so much hardship and sadness for humans and their best friends, there is good news to report says Holly Sizemore with Best Friends Animal Society.

"We're seeing fewer animals entering into shelters, and we're seeing less euthanasia," said Sizemore, the Chief Mission Officer for Best Friends Animal Society. "At New York City Animal Care and Control, their return rate on adoptions before COVID was around 11% and during COVID, it's been 8%."

For those who are considering surrendering their pet because of financial issues, veterinarians and local animal shelters may be able to help find resources to keep pets with forever families.

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