Why fostering a shelter animal during coronavirus crisis helps you and them

You may not be able to be around your friends and extended family during the coronavirus outbreak, which has led to a statewide shelter-in-place-order, but you can cuddle up to a four-legged buddy.

Doing so can prove beneficial for you and the animal — even if the bond is only temporary.

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There have been studies on the effects of loneliness, and that may prove to be more of a problem as social distancing continues amid efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus. These efforts, however, have also put pressure on animal shelters.

"In times like these, shelters are going to be absolutely swamped with a tremendous number of pets," Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of the nonprofit American Humane, told NBC's "Today." "We have to be able to provide safety valves for those shelters to release some of their populations into fostering homes. … Truly, we are in a major crisis for animal shelters and for rescue groups."

As organizations try to reduce the risk of exposure to the new virus, which causes COVID-19, many pet shelters in the metro Atlanta area have encouraged people to foster animals.

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Decatur's PAWS Atlanta put out a call earlier this month for fosters not only for critters at the no-kill shelter, but also for the many cats at Java Cats Cafe. The shelter has placed more than 75 animals in foster homes since then.

“Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Thanks to all of our fosters (new and old), volunteers, and staff we have placed over 75 animals in foster since Saturday 3/14. OVER SEVENTY FIVE! Holy cow!” read a PAWS Facebook post.

Best Friends Animal Society, which partners with Atlanta's LifeLine Animal Project and shelters across the nation, also asked that people foster pets.

"We just see a tremendous response from the community after this call out for fostering," spokeswoman Nichole Dandrea said in a statement to WABE.

Angels Among Us Pet Rescue, based in Alpharetta, has also asked people to foster pets.

Studies have shown the benefits of having a pet. Plus, fostering cannot only help save an animal's life, but it can stop feelings of loneliness.

“We just don’t want people to feel alone, and when you have an animal in your life, you’re never feeling alone,” Ganzert told “Today.”

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