VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Last year, as the reality of COVID 19 settled in, the Virginia Beach SPCA saw a jump in people coming in and leaving with a new fur baby.

“With the pandemic, the one good thing that did come out of it [with pets] who were already in homes or being adopted into homes, is they had a lot more time with their pet parents, which is a great thing,” said Virginia Beach SPCA Communications and Marketing Manager Mandi Kowaleski.

Kowaleski says this allowed pets to really learn the ropes and get used to routines. However, with COVID-19 restrictions easing up and family members going back to work, Kowaleski says animals are slowly being brought back to the shelter. Adoptions overall are down 25%.

“It is a variety of reasons but certainly less time is one of them. Another problem we’re seeing is animals being used to everybody being home, and that’s a big shift for them. You were home 24/7 and now one or more people in the home … are gone for long periods of time, and the animals aren’t used to that. So, that can lead to some misbehaviors in the home and people getting frustrated,” Kowaleski explained.

On Thursday, Gov. Ralph Northam said there’s a chance all capacity and social distancing restrictions could be lifted on June 15.

With that date coming up, Kowaleski is concerned animal relinquishments may continue to rise. So, they’re working to educate adopters about separation anxiety in dogs and cats as folks go back to work.

“By working with your pet now and setting that foundation, it’s going to be a much easier transition for you and your pet,” stated Kowaleski.

You can find information on separation anxiety education at the VBSPCA by clicking here.