By Brooke Shafer

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Fostering and adopting animals is on the rise in the midst of coronavirus pandemic.

With the stress of the pandemic, many South Floridians are turning to animals to cope.

“Through fostering, the community has stepped up,” said Alex Munoz, Director of Miami-Dade Animal Services.

Munoz said their building off Northwest 79th Avenue in Doral typically has upwards of 400 cats and dogs up for adoption or fostering. As of Wednesday, the number of animals was under 100.

Munoz told CBS4, these are some of the lowest numbers his shelter has seen in easily more than a decade.

“We’ve fostered more animals than we have ever before in a time period. And we’ve also adopted lots of animals in the last three or four weeks,” said Munoz.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Munoz said he was concerned pet owners would drop off or surrender their pets due to economic uncertainty. What he saw at Miami-Dade Animal Services was quite the opposite.

“I think initially, people just wanted to help. That was the initial response,” Munoz said. As time has gone on, I think folks have noticed they have time on their hands to do stuff.”

Miami-Dade Animal Services isn’t the only shelter seeing near-empty kennels.

Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control shared a video to Facebook of shelter staff cheering and clapping after emptying the shelter’s stray housing kennel and adoption overflow kennel.

The Facebook post said this was the first time in the history of Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control that they have completely emptied one of their dog kennels.

“With the pandemic going on and everything, a lot of people are in their houses and everything,” said Ana Martinez who adopted her dog “Baby” from Miami-Dade Animal Services on Wednesday.

“I was like I’m gonna adopt a dog and try to save a life and make a difference even if we have to stay at home,” Martinez said. “There’s always something you can do.”

But with so many people currently fostering animals, Director Munoz said they are planning for a possible influx of pets coming back to Miami-Dade Animal Services once this is all over.

“I don’t want to say that we’re worried. We realize that that would be a position that we would be in,” said Munoz.

Miami-Dade Animal Services is open with limited resources Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

You are still able to go in person to adopt or foster an animal.

For information online, head to miamidade.gov/animals.

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