To Love and Leave our Pets

The pandemic has brought us closer to our pets, but the prospect of a vaccine means that they will soon need to face our absence.

Quarantine and the global pandemic have impacted humanity enormously, but have you ever thought about how much it has affected your pets? Our dogs, cats, and other pets need the same comfort and security that we desire during this unpredictable time. Quarantine was a major time for bonding with our pets and the adoption of new ones, but it also brought great amounts of grief for pets who were less fortunate.

During the pandemic, what did a lot of people do? You have probably seen endless posts of people who adopted dogs during this time. It is actually the perfect time to adopt. Although a lot of your Instagram feed may be pictures of new dogs, you have not seen the financial troubles that hit the pet care industry. 

Many humane societies and shelters reached major economic problems during the pandemic and struggled to keep the shelters up and running while maintaining safety. Financial hardships during the pandemic have brought a major increase in pets in shelters and being displaced in general. Owners across the country had to surrender their animals because they have lost the ability to provide and pay for the care their pets need. Many pets have been simply abandoned during this time, or given to overcrowded shelters. According to the Humane Society of the United States, an estimated 10 million pets could be displaced in the coming months. The shelters then struggle to take in the cost for these large amounts of animals. The Humane Society also created a COVID-19 Relief Fund to help pets stay with their families and have also donated in order to help shelters and rescue organizations around the country. 

In addition, many Americans faced financial problems this year, which made caring and providing for their animals a big issue. In an article from USA Today, John Crowe, a 58-year-old former construction worker, shared his experience with this exact struggle. The pandemic brought him great financial trouble, and he had a lot of trouble figuring out what to do about his three black dogs. 

“I couldn’t find a place to rent that would take dogs,” Crowe told USA Today.

The article shared that he eventually found a solution by giving them to a senior dog sanctuary, Lily’s Legacy. Lily’s Legacy is home to senior dogs, where they personally take care of them and provide them with a new home. In this case, he was able to find a happy solution, but this is not the case for some pets.

You can help support shelters and help relieve people facing major economic barriers and struggling to provide for their animals. Every bit helps and you can donate here, to help the fight in protecting all animals. 

While the pandemic did bring sad consequences for some pets, it did bring a huge increase in the pet care industry and adoption.

One of the benefits to come out of this pandemic is the addition of furry friends to many families. During the pandemic, we reduced social interaction with other people, but our pets definitely felt the increase in the amount of attention and time with us as a result. I know, for my family at least, we have been able to spend a lot of time with our dogs and take them on multiple walks throughout the day. How will our animals and pets feel if and when we all go back to work and “normal” life? 

With a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, we must help prepare our animals for our upcoming absence (Illustration by Davide Bonazzi/The Washington Post)

One of the most important things you can do to help and prepare them for your absence is to start leaving your house more frequently with increasing durations of time. Obviously, it will still be several months until we may be able to leave the house on a normal basis, but the gradual change starting long before we go back will help your four-legged friends the best. This process should not be started right now, as many places such as businesses and schools are shutting down due to the major increase in COVID-19 cases currently. Once it is safe and you are ready, you can start helping your pet to adjust to this ongoing changing world. Northeast Animal Hospital helps provide information on how to help our furry friends adjust to this changing world. 

“This will help your pet get used to the idea of you being away, and that you always come back,”  the hospital shared. 

You also need to get back into your old schedule and habits. Being home all day long most likely brought a change to you and your animal’s schedule, and it is important to help them become comfortable with it again. Start walking them when you used to and feed them earlier if that is what you did before quarantine. It may seem weird at first, but it will benefit your pet in the long run.

“Start with pointless walks around the block without your dog–just ten minutes,” Clive Wynne, a psychology professor and director of the Canine Science Collaboratory at Arizona State University, shared in a recent interview with The Washington Post.

It is important not to just suddenly leave for long periods of time. You have to gradually increase the amount of time, so your pet does not become overwhelmed, which could also lead them to act out as a result. 

Looking back, it seems strange that we left our animals home alone for eight hours during the day. This pandemic has brought such a strange new way of life, and one of the most important things we can do is be flexible and adjust. It is natural to feel guilty or sad leaving your pets at home. So hopefully, the one thing that can come out of this pandemic is some sort of realization to employers that people can and should be able to work from home some days of the week.

Don’t forget that this changing world is not only affecting you but also your pets. We can only try our best to keep up and stay optimistic about our future and prepare as much as we can for it.