Humans and animals have always shared a special bond. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why people like being surrounded by animals. No, we’re not talking about hunting or using accurate reels for fishing. We’re talking about a special connection that animal companionship brings, especially during highly stressful times such as a pandemic.
One of the better things that the coronavirus pandemic has brought is a significant increase in pet adoption rates. In Wuhan, China where the virus originated, at the onset of the outbreak, lots of people abandoned their pets. Fearful that the same thing will happen locally, most animal rescue shelters did their best to empty their facilities to accommodate the number of abandoned pets they were anticipating.
However, things started to take a different turn because instead of animal shelters housing strays and abandoned pets for an indefinite amount of time, pet adoption applications started pouring in.
According to Tegan McPherson of RSPCA in Victoria, Australia, they have seen more than 20,000 online applications for pet adoptions since the pandemic began. Animals stayed for an average of only four days in RSPCA, which is very much in contrast to what they’re used to.
Matt Bershadker, ASPCA’s president and CEO, says that their facilities in New York and Los Angeles have seen a 70% increase in the number of animals in foster care and a 200% increase in the number of people wanting to adopt the animals under their care.
Pandemic Pets: Coping Mechanisms for Stress, Anxiety, and Loneliness
Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction co-director, Megan Mueller, PhD has this to say about this pandemic-induced pet adoption trend, “For many people, our pets are a really important way in which we cope with stress and anxiety.” She goes on to say, “And especially in times of extreme stress, like we’re experiencing right now, that relationship with our pets can be even more important.”
Studies have shown that where there is a bond between a person and an animal—especially a dog—the non-human companion’s presence can greatly decrease stress and anxiety triggers and creates physiological changes about them that improve their mood.
Having animals around helps a person feel less lonely. The emotional connection provided by these pets helps give pet owners a sense of being needed and wanted. It gives them great comfort to receive unconditional love and adoration from another living creature.
While a lot of people adopted pets to rescue them and give them a home, unconsciously and unwittingly, they have set themselves up for better mental health during the pandemic with the adoption. Aside from the sanity and emotional fulfillment that having a pet brings, animal care also impacts a person’s overall health. Taking care of them, petting them, feeding them, playing with them, walking them—all of these things and a lot more require one to physically move and stay ambulatory giving them regular exercise without their knowing it.
The sudden surge in pet adoption over the pandemic is proof that there is a special bond between humans and animals that just cannot be explained, only experienced.