When Miranda Pearson set out to adopt a pet in June, she had no idea what a challenge it would be.

Pearson’s sheltie Isaac died five years ago, and during the COVID lockdown, the Vancouver poet and psychiatric nurse felt it would be good time to bring a new pet home.

But it turns out many British Columbians are feeling exactly the same way. That means there are very few pets — in particular dogs — available for adoption.

“I’ve been trying to find a dog or a cat through several different rescue sites including the SPCA, but also some of smaller [rescue organizations]. And I haven’t even heard back from anyone,” says Pearson.

“When I’ve pushed a little bit, they’ve said, ‘Oh no, that one you applied for is gone.’ So they just seem to go right away.”

Before the pandemic hit, rescue organizations like the B.C. SPCA feared they would face an influx of animals if the virus forced thousands of people into hospitals, as it had in other areas of the world.

That spike in hospitalizations never materialized in B.C., while at the same time, many people were either out of a job or working from home. The demand for cuddly companions skyrocketed.

‘We’ve definitely seen an increase’

Lorie Chortyk of the B.C. SPCA says they still have animals coming in from their regular animal cruelty investigations, from people in need of emergency boarding, and from more remote regions where there are fewer prospective adopters, but dogs in particular get snapped up quickly.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in adoptions throughout the whole COVID crisis,” says Chortyk, who says they’ve seen 200 applications for a single puppy.