Life during Quarantine 18: Pets and the Pandemic

These months at home have made everyone anxious and homebound. In my work in sales and service, I have seen people be more impatient and upset as the months of being restricted has made a mark in their lives. One of the biggest DE stressors has been pets!  I now do not have a pet but have been greatly affected by seeing the cats and dogs of my clients, it brings me much joy! I also found a funny YouTube channel called Aarons animals with the main character of a cat called Prince Michael. A Russian blue whose exuberance and difficulties has mirrored some of my own lately.

 I confess I have watched his quarantine cat video 10 or more times and laughed each time.

So, here’s somethings I found. The positivity pets can provide: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with the enjoyment they provide, pets offer a variety of health benefits, including:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Lowered cholesterol levels
  • Decreased levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in your body
  • Reduced feelings of loneliness
  • Increased opportunities for exercise and outdoor activities
  • Improved opportunities for social connection

How are the pet’s feeling about this change in routine? Many Facebook posts dedicated to working at home and having your pets “help” have been circulating! Across the globe, as the quarantine period advised by public health experts to fight the spread of the coronavirus stretches from weeks into nearly two months for some, pet owners are reporting that their furry companions are leaving old habits in the dust. Some pets are growing clingy. Others are pouncing on exercise equipment, gliding across countertops, or hiding in corners, and shooting their owner’s concerned stares.

In Italy, where people have remained under lockdown since late February or early March, pets are also reportedly struggling with their new routines. One woman told Politico that she and her husband normally travel often, so the switch to a permanent homebound life has alarmed her dog. “He hasn’t really gotten over it and still spends much of the day on the sofa giving us suspicious looks,” she said. Another pet owner said that her cat tackles her yoga mat whenever she tries to do burpees.

Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of pets spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 in people is low. Currently, there is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19. There is a small number of animals around the world reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after having close contact with a person with COVID-19.Until we learn more about how this virus affects animals, treat pets as you would human family members to protect them from possible infection. This means:

  • Don’t let pets interact with people or other animals outside the household.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible to prevent them from interacting with other animals or people.
  • Walk dogs on a leash maintaining at least 6 feet (2 meters) from other people and animals.
  • Avoid dog parks or public places where many people and dogs gather.

If your pet gets sick or you have to talk to your veterinarian. Regarding adopting a new pet, here’s what the FDA had to say: Are pets from a shelter safe to adopt? Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is low. There is no reason to think that any animals, including shelter pets, play a significant role in spreading the virus that causes COVID-19.

The loss of our daily routines as we knew them—and the threat of more serious casualties to come from COVID-19—has put a serious emotional strain on all of us. So perhaps it should come as no surprise to see social media feeds flooded with photos and videos of cats, dogs, and other companion animals rising to the occasion.

Pets are serving as our companions in coping throughout the U.S., from suburban kitties taking over “office” chairs and keyboards to rural dogs hunkering down at home. Even celebrities have gotten in on the act—with Anthony Hopkins serenading his cat, and Arnold Schwarzenegger delivering a stay-at-home video PSA starring his pet donkey and miniature horse in his kitchen.

This instinct to turn to our pets during this pandemic is supported by science, said Megan Mueller, A08, G10, G13, the Elizabeth Arnold Stevens Junior Professor at Cummings School, and a researcher studying how pets help people.  Pets provide nonjudgmental emotional support, she said, and studies show that “contact with pets help reduces stress and anxiety, particularly when you are experiencing a stressful situation. “Research also has shown that animals help older adults cope better with social isolation—that is, being physically separated from others—and with loneliness, said Mueller, who is also co-director of Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction and a senior fellow at College. In day-to-day life, seniors tend to more at risk of social isolation and loneliness because of factors related to that stage of life, including spouses and friends passing away, being stuck at home due to health or transportation issues, or children being occupied with work and raising their own families. Now, though, “everyone is truly physically isolated,” said Mueller, who is curious whether the same benefits seen in seniors apply to the general population during COVID-19. Mueller said that people these days should consider spending extra time with their pet—it could provide a much-needed boost.

What began in mid-March as a sudden surge in demand had, as of mid-July, become a bona fide sales boom. Shelters, nonprofit rescues, private breeders, pet stores — all reported more consumer demand than there were dogs and puppies to fill it. Some rescues were reporting dozens of applications for individual dogs. Some breeders were reporting waiting lists well into 2021. Americans kept trying to fill voids with canine companions, either because they were stuck working from home with children who needed something to do, or had no work and lots of free time, or felt lonely with no way to socialize.

On the other side of the country, at Animal Care Centers of NYC, about 25 percent of the people who agreed to take in foster dogs temporarily at the start of the pandemic had adopted them permanently by late June. Usually, that foster-turned-adopter figure is 10 percent, said Katy Hansen, director of marketing and communications.

And the New York shelter was seeing lower-than-usual return rates on adopted dogs, she added. More adoptions may be working out, she said, in part because of the way the virus forced shelters to change their processes. There have always been pre-adoption forms to fill out in most parts of the country, along with things like home checks and reference calls to verify adopters’ information — some adopters have joked in the past that it’s easier to bring home a child than a dog. Now there are more virtual touchpoints added to the pre-adoption process.

Shelter directors, too, are wondering what will happen as Americans start returning to school and work. Bernstein, in Los Angeles, said there could be an increase in dogs being abandoned, or the dogs may have bonded so much with their families that they’ll keep them forever. Like so many things with the coronavirus, the territory is uncharted. Just as nobody predicted that the start of a pandemic would lead to a buying spree for pet dogs, nobody is quite sure what the end of a pandemic will mean for the pups either.

“While we have general ideas and can make good guesses, we really don’t know how this will turn out,” Bernstein said. “Nobody has ever done this before.”

If you have a little extra love, why not consider adopting a new pet, and tell me how it has made your life richer!


Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
Cynthia Kosciuczyk, MBA
I took the less-traveled roads which led to many careers. Each of these contributed to my unique mix of expertise: science research, teaching, food, art, and textiles. Owning and operating my own businesses (a bakery, a gallery, and a consulting business) thrust me into the driver seat of learning many diverse roles from customer service to public relations and resulted in my unique management style. Participating in the creation of startups, working in design, and my own businesses and technology endeavors. My quest for knowledge and seeking out the best has turned me into a networking enthusiast. A lifelong passion for textiles and Persian rugs taught me an array of professional skills such as research, writing, and community events. Networking resulted in a multitude of business opportunities. My experiences include Management, Entrepreneurship, Sales, Design, Descriptive Writing, Business Strategy, Color, and Textiles. Every facet of my work and life comes together like pieces of a puzzle. I strive to be a phenomenal networker and problem solver who continues to learn and grow.

SOLD OUT! JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! It's not a virtual event. It's not a conference. It's not a seminar, a meeting, or a symposium. It's not about attracting a big crowd. It's not about making a profit, but rather about making a real difference. LEARN MORE HERE