SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There’s nothing quite like the companionship provided by our furry friends.

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)…more than 23 million American households adopted pets during the pandemic. The vast majority of these pandemic pet-owners are not considering rehoming their pet in the near future. Still, Lee Chambers of the Dakin Humane Society says there’s a large number of animals currently in need of loving homes.

“We have so many wonderful pets here who really want to attach to a person or a family and show that kind of love, so we hope to see them matched with somebody terrific.” Lee Chambers, Dakin Humane Society

The summer months are typically a busy time for pet adoption but economic issues have impacted people’s ability to care for their pets, leading to higher demand at shelters and humane societies. For those who are hesitant to adopt, fostering is an option.

“One thing that has saved us, again and again, are foster caregivers. They’re so critical to our programs here. These are folks who take pets into their home for a short-term basis.” Lee Chambers, Dakin Humane Society

Although there are costs associated with being a pet owner, Lee says companionship is priceless. “There’s a lot to be said for animal companionship. They are the source of unconditional love. They have gotten us through a lot of tough times, especially in the last couple of years of the pandemic and so many people being home more than we ever thought we would be. The value of animal companionship is – well it’s invaluable.”

Local pet owners agree. “Every morning, it gets me out of bed. To walk a trail like this trail or just to go out into the fields or whatever and walk with the dogs. It really is – it makes my morning. Definitely.” Susan Collins, Vermont