Pets and their humans have been spending much more time together during the pandemic. A system-wide rush to return adopted animals might soon be a reality for many.
By | Jessie Woo
“Pandemic Pets” is a new term that originated during the lockdown phases of COVID-19.
Pets were (are) lifesavers for people, keeping everyone company and helping many cope with loneliness, isolation, and depression during the quarantine period.
Knowing this, many people adopted an animal for companionship during the pandemic.
This was a win-win situation, as both the animal and their human benefited from a symbiotic relationship. The animals received a loving, mostly occupied home to live and simultaneously provided emotional support and company for the owner dealing with quarantine-related stress.
Other than emotional support, both owners and pets spent much more time outdoors, enjoying nature walks, and much-needed fresh air, especially since people spent most of their time locked indoors for safety reasons.
Almost 30% of Canadians adopted a pet during the pandemic, and of those, 40% of them chose adoption or other animal breeders, which supports many local animal shelters.
However, despite the positivity of the increase of adoptions, and emotional support for people who became mentally unwell due to the loneliness during quarantine, when it is time to finally get back to work, the worries of the aftermath of pandemic pets begin.
Due to the transition to a busier schedule of work/school, people are beginning to have less time to care for their pets, therefore leading them to think about returning their pets to the shelter.
This trend has not been seen in BC yet, but it has been happening in several provinces across Canada and in many parts of the world.
To prevent this tragedy from happening, it is critical for owners to make a smooth transition back to a busy schedule and balance this with taking care of their pets. Training their pets along with this transition will help prevent separation anxiety, which is common among animals that are not used to being separated from their owners.
Owners must take into consideration that their pets are also living beings and a big part of any family unit, and it would be unfair if they were treated as something ‘refundable’.
Some difficult decisions will have to be made.