Shelters and rescues could hardly keep up with demand during the height of the coronavirus pandemic and even as recent as earlier this year.

But as quickly as residents raced to adopt or foster a furry friend during lockdown and work-at-home mode, animal facilities are seeing a slowdown in the amount of interest as the Garden State continues its recovery from the COVID-19 crisis, even though plenty of animals still need a place to call home.

"We're kind of pausing a bit to see how things shake out," said Jeff Smith, co-founder of Northstar Pet Rescue in Boonton.

At one point during the pandemic, Northstar couldn't keep dogs for more than a day. Eligible adoptive families were at the ready when volunteers came back to the rescue with dogs picked up from shelters.

But starting in early May, Smith said, activity started to taper off. Since then, applications and inquiries have declined significantly.

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"We're not going to be sure until maybe September, October, whether ... things are going to pick up the way they were before the pandemic, or whether now the demand for dogs is going to be stalled for a while," Smith said.

With the exception of last summer, which saw many residents' plans scrapped by the public health crisis, facilities typically see a drop in customer activity during the summer months.

"The last few weeks were dreadful," said Laurie Fasinski, executive director at Jersey Shore Animal Center in Brick. "People do want animals, but it's not that mad dash that it was before."

Even with the adoption rush experienced during the pandemic, Fasinksi noted, shelters remain "jam-packed" with animals needing homes.

"It all stems from overpopulation," she said.

Donna Polizzi, president of New Jersey South Hills Pet Rescue in Chester, said the pandemic was "very good" to animals needing a home in 2020, and it likely changed many families' views of rescue animals.

"I think people opened their hearts a little bit more to dogs they normally would not have chosen, and I think that's a good thing," she said.

Still, NJSH is getting calls from the shelters it pulls from, because they continue to need help finding safe homes for the animals in their care.

"The shelters are full, it is endless," Polizzi said.

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