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Now is a great time to adopt a pet

Derrick Knowles, like many, had been losing sleep over recent weeks due to the novel coronavirus. The publisher of Out There Outdoors magazine was lonely during his nightly walk through his West Central neighborhood.

The solution was simple: Visit a local animal shelter and adopt a dog. The Knowles family selected a husky/rat terrier last Friday. “It was the best thing we could do,” Shallan Knowles said. “Every day our anxiety level increased. Adopting Fernie was the answer for my husband, Derrick, and our child (4-year-old Remy). We heard that shelters were possibly going to shut down for a while, so we reached out (last) Wednesday, and we found our dog.”

Shallan Knowles, 42, and her 44-year-old husband were looking for an athletic animal.

“We needed a dog who could keep up with us,” Knowles said. “The great thing about the shelters is you can find exactly what you’re looking for. Fernie, who is so great for our urban walks and just around the house, has been amazing. People should go out now and get a dog. The timing is perfect. At least it was for us.”

That’s exactly the message Spokane shelters, many of whom are open by appointment only, would like to generate.

Terena Thi, director of development and communications at the Spokane Humane Society, said local animal shelters have witnessed a 30% spike in adoptions this month. Thi hopes that trend will continue.

“Now is such a great time to adopt a new furry friend and give him a forever home,” Thi said.

Those who have been putting off pet adoption due to the amount of time it takes to train a new addition have an unusual opportunity. “Many people are not working or are working from home, so they can take advantage of this time and add so much to their life and change the life of a pet who needs a home. If you’re home for the next few weeks, you can train a pet and establish a bond that will last for the rest of the animal’s life. You can make an animal so happy.”

But it’s a two-way street. Many people are riddled with anxiety.

“Several studies have shown that people who have an animal aren’t so stressed out anymore,” Thi said. “They have a companion, someone they can turn to. They have a forever buddy. If you came down to our shelter, you would find a pet and just love him. If you’re here like the people who work here, you can’t help but want to take some animals home.”

Cheyanne Aiken, who volunteers at the Spokane Humane Society, backs up Thi. Aiken, 23, who is a first-responder, adopted Bella, a 5-year-old German shepherd, on Tuesday at SHS.

“I was at the shelter and Bella just spoke to me,” Aiken said from her Cheney home. “She’s so sweet. We went for a walk, and we developed an instant bond. It really is a great time to adopt a dog considering the situation. So many people would benefit by coming down for a new companion.”

There also are those who are looking to add a pet to their family regardless of the coronavirus situation. Rachel Asher, the married mother of three prepubescent children, was looking for a canine to complete her family. “I wanted my children to grow up with a dog, and we decided to go to a shelter,” Asher said from her home on Fairchild Air Force Base.

Asher, 27, a stay-at-home mom, adopted a 1-year-old Labrador retriever dubbed Gizmo on March 20. “He fits in so well with our family,” Asher said. “I have to give the shelter credit. I asked for a family-friendly dog. I saw two dogs, and the other one was just a little hyper since he was just 5 months old. Gizmo is the perfect fit for us, but there are so many dogs that need homes. Anyone who is thinking about adding a dog to their family should make an appointment at a shelter.”

That’s especially so since word is circulating the shelters may close soon. “We’re open right now,” Thi said. “People should take advantage of the opportunity they have.”

It’s also safe to adopt. “Our overall mission is to find homes for neglected animals, and we’re being mindful and conscious about what’s going on now,” Thi said. “We’re sanitizing regularly, and we’re keeping social distance. It’s worth leaving your home to come to our shelter, and then you get back to your home with a loving friend who will make such a difference in your life now and when we get back to normal.”

To schedule an adoption appointment, contact the Spokane Humane Society at or (509) 467-5235, ext. 215. Can’t adopt and looking for other ways to support your furry friends while at home? You can donate online to support their furry friends at