Americans help animal shelters during coronavirus pandemic

Things were looking good for Axel Evensen, 17, when the coronavirus outbreak led to a stay-at-home order in California. The high school senior had just been cast in the school play, was interning at a veterinary clinic and looking forward to rites of passage like senior prom and graduation.“This has been his best and happiest year of school,” his mom, Jill Evensen, told TODAY. “It was a lot to lose all at once.”Evensen hoped her family of four could find something constructive to do with their time at home, since she believes, “Sometimes helping somebody else is the best way to make yourself feel better, too.”
Axel Evensen suggested fostering a dog. With his parents’ support, he emailed paperwork to OC Animal Care in Tustin, California. The next day, the family picked up Johnny, a Chihuahua mixed-breed dog recovering from eye surgery.
Axel Evensen, 17, cuddles his foster dog, Johnny. "He's a little shy but he's coming out of his shell," Evensen told TODAY.Jill Evensen

The little dog instantly bonded to the teen and sleeps in his bed at night. Sometimes they FaceTime together with friends.

“He’s very attached to me,” he told TODAY. “It’s definitely something fun to keep my mind off things.”

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Volunteers across America have opened their homes to foster pets as animal shelters race to adapt to social distancing and other efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. The numbers are both staggering and inspiring. Representatives from the nonprofit Best Friends Animal Society told TODAY that the data management system Petpoint analyzed figures from 1,200 animal welfare organizations. For the week of March 14-20, the groups saw an overall 93% increase in animals going into foster homes compared to the previous week.