The Monmouth County SPCA in Eatontown said it has seen an uptick in pet adoptions not only for the holidays, but during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Director Ross Licitra says that while he encourages New Jerseyans to adopt fur babies and give them forever homes, it's also important to remember that these animals come with a slew of everyday responsibilities — even after the holidays are over.

Animals are are not just something you can put on a shelf and get to it when you feel like it. They will always require attention, food and veterinary care.

While many people have been home during these past nine months while working and attending remote schooling, these dogs and cats have gotten used to having everyone home. But at some point, lives will go back to normal and pets may develop separation anxiety.

When this happens, pet owners should have enrichment for their dog. Licitra also encourages adopting in pairs, especially when it comes to cats and kittens. He understands it might be a huge task to take on two dogs, but when possible, it's always a great idea to adopt in pairs so the animals have company.

He encourages residents to go online at the Monmouth County SPCA to see what animals are up for adoption or come into the shelter by appointment only. There are other animals that are not posted online that you may fall in love with.

From there, Licitra said you'll meet with an adoption counselor. They'll go through a prospective pet owner's background, finding things out like where you live, if there are children or other animals in the house. Then the counselor will try to pair you up with the perfect match.

Licitra warns, however, that there are reasons why an adoption may be rejected. If a person travels a lot or if they live a lone, they may be rejected. If someone has small children and the dog or cat they're interested in does not play well with children, that would be another reason. The same goes if a person already has other animals at home and shelter animal they're interested in does not get along with other animals.

The goal is to move animals out of the shelter as soon as possible into forever homes. But Licitra said there is another option for people who can't really adopt an animal but still want the pet experience: fostering a dog or cat.

A foster pet parent can take an animal into their home for a few weeks, a month, or for however long to give them a reprieve from shelter life.

This is a great program, said Licitra, because a lot of people feel like they're making a difference in an animal's life, giving them some time away from the shelter to enjoy some home life.

He said it's been business as usual at the shelter with adoptions. The good news is that he has not seen any animals that have been adopted during the pandemic returned to them.

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