With homeless pets languishing in shelters amid the coronavirus pandemic, France is making one exception to its strict stay-at-home policy to allow people outside for pet adoptions.

Following a plea from the Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA), the country’s Interior Ministry is granting permission to people to find animal companions at one of the SPA’s 62 rescue centers, which were closed to the public several weeks ago due to newly-imposed guidelines restricting public movement.

“It has been decided that tolerance will be granted for travel to adopt animals from shelters,” the ministry said in a statement, before clarifying that there are still regulations to be followed, such as selecting the pet online and coming to the shelter alone. “This will enable the rules to be respected and to save the lives of numerous animals.”

The SPA needed immediate action, reporting over 5,000 animals in their shelters and a total capacity of only 6,000. Fortunately, the government swiftly responded.

“Fully behind the cause of animal welfare,” said Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, “the government has heard the SPA’s call and immediately shown the heart to find a sensible solution.”

As social distancing and self-isolation measures continue to be implemented and abided by, more people are turning to pets to relieve loneliness, boredom, anxiety, and depression. It’s important to remember that these special bonds are not meant to be temporary, and everyone should have a plan in place for the lifelong care of their new furry friends.