By Kate Raddatz

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As people spend more of their time at home practicing social distancing, animal rescue organizations can hardly keep up with demand to add a furry friend to the family.

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Ruff Start Rescue, a nonprofit that helps dogs, cats and other animals find loving homes all over Minnesota, received thousands of inquiries regarding fostering and adoption in March.

There were 320 new foster applications, according to Ruff Start Rescue founder Azure Davis, which is typically what they see in an entire year.

“Which is great because we didn’t know what was going to happen when this first happened,” Davis said. “We can hardly keep up with it.”

Azure Davis (credit: CBS)

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She attributes the sudden uptick to the fact that people are spending more time at home, and suddenly have the time to train a new puppy. She said pets can also be comforting when someone is isolated.

“It helps for so many reasons, for mental health, for all having a pet in your home,” Davis said.

She urges potential owners to make sure they’re ready to have a new dog, cat or any pet, and that they’ve thought the decision through. She suggested people also do puppy training now while they are home, and prepare the pet for when the owner may have to go back into work.

“Give your dog or cat some alone time every day,” she said. “It’s going to set that dog and you up for success.”

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Davis said due to social distancing measures, right now families are primarily “meeting” their potential family member via video before going to pick them up.

Kate Raddatz