LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — About one-in-five American households adopted a pet during the pandemic, establishing what experts call a puppy pandemic.
Adoptions are up 26% at Hearts Alive Village., according to the organization.
Andy St. John is one of many who added a pet to his family.
Her name is Alice.
"We knew it was a match right off the start," Andy said. "My daughter loved her and we had a lot of fun here at Hearts Alive Village. She was very playful and friendly."
Pets are helping families deal with the harsh realities of life during a year where there have been many ups and downs.
Deb Rutherford also shared her adoption story with us.
"I was fostering," Deb said. " I got two little puppies to foster and absolutely fell in love and kept one of them."
Deb and her husband kept a puppy named Sheila.
"She bonded with him," Deb said. "Anytime he is working or in the yard, she is at his feet."
"She acts like she understands everything he's doing and just waits for the next direction from him," Deb said.
But all pets are not as fortunate.
Preston is one dog whose owner had to call Hearts Alive to see if they could take him.
"I have to leave tomorrow and I don't know what to do with him," she said. "If you could find a placement for him, I'd appreciate it. I'm 78 years old and it's really difficult giving him up."
Christy Stevens is the owner of Hearts Alive Village. She says they get calls like this all the time and lately they've seen an increase in owner surrenders.
"People with their health, they're in a financial crisis or a housing crisis, they can't handle the increased rent and they're looking for a safe place for their babies to go. There's not a lot of resources," says Christy Stevens, who created Hearts Alive Village more than eight years ago to help fill that need.
They offer discounted pet supplies, food and veterinary services- all so owners won't have to give up their pets.
"Like with many social ills, it's prevention that's where we should be putting the most energy, effort and dollars," Christy said.
Hearts Alive still needs your help. If you would like to donate, adopt or volunteer, you can find more information on their website.