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How the pandemic has changed the way people in Arkansas adopt pets

Workers at animal shelters say there's more time to learn about what type of pet people want, which makes finding the perfect furry friend much more common.

PULASKI COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark — The Humane Society of Pulaski County says they experienced a minor dip in adoptions during the pandemic, but throughout they've had consistent adoptions — all done virtually.

Julie Austin is the development director and she said they've had a lot of challenges, but some good things came out of the pandemic.

"We've actually ended up having a very good year, all things considered. Overall, we were able to get a lot of dogs and cats into new homes," said Austin.

She says they closed to the public when everyone and everything else closed. The challenge was rushing to figure out a solution for animal care and adoptions that were still safe for everyone.

"Now, a lot of people start by either emailing us or messaging us to ask how the process goes and we send them to our website. There is a menu there that has all of our adoptable animals," said Austin. 

People can scroll through and see which animal would best match for them through detailed descriptions.

The application for adoption is one page with questions about home and living situation, how many people are living in a space, etc.

The adoption team will then review the application and schedule a time to meet the animal outside before a final decision is made.

"Sometimes what we have found during the pandemic that was a real positive for us is it really allowed us a lot of one on one time to really help people make the right choices by matching people up with the correct pet," said Austin. 

She said before the pandemic, usually, people would come to the shelter, see a cute animal, and want it immediately at face value without knowing if the animal would be right for them or their families.

They plan on opening their shelters back up soon, but still would like to incorporate the online process. 

"We don't know exactly what that will look like yet, but we hope that some of the things we learned through the online process, we can also sort of merge those two and make it overall a better adoption experience."