More cats getting adopted during coronavirus lockdown as they don't need to be walked as dogs
Animal rescue organizations across the country have reported a spike in interested foster parents over the past month, especially in hard-hit areas like New York City
The COVID-19 pandemic has created havoc around the world infecting more than 900,000 people and killing over 45,000. Several major cities across the globe as well as in the US are in lockdown to prevent the further spread of the virus, which has led to another issue - panic buying - as there is no certainty when the situation will normalize.
However, it seems Americans are not just stockpiling essentials like toilet paper, bottled water, and food, but many are also taking home new pets. The evidence so far has also shown that it’s unclear whether pets can spread the virus to people.
Animal rescue organizations across the country have reported a spike in interested foster parents over the past month, especially in hard-hit areas like New York City.
According to Julie Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit with locations around the States, there has been a sudden surge in applications for pet adoptions.
“I think people are gravitating towards pets during this time of uncertainty because they can serve as a source of comfort. The companionship of pets has been shown to reduce stress and lower anxiety, helping people to feel calmer and more secure when the news from the outside world is distressing,” Castle told CBS News.
Castle also said that the organization’s branch in Salt Lake City received 350 new applications in just one week, while in Los Angeles, it is "getting hundreds of requests" and workers are now referring people to local shelters. Not only this, the CEO added that the organization’s website traffic also increased by 240 percent with new visitors during the week of March 16-22.
Another organization working for animals, North Shore Animal League America, reported increased numbers of applications for adoption and fostering. Joanne Yohannan, the organization's senior vice president of operations, confirmed a "significant increase" compared to their average numbers.
He remarked: “It is wonderful to see communities coming together to give voice to the voiceless. We think this is happening because people want to do something meaningful and they want to give back, particularly at a time like this."
Speaking about pet adoption and fostering ticking up in recent weeks, Shane G. Owens, Ph.D., ABPP, Assistant Director, Campus Mental Health Services, Farmingdale State College told MEA WorldWide: “It's partly because pets make people feel good and partly because many people feel a responsibility to care for these animals. Funding for and attention to these animals will likely decrease, so people are picking up the slack and making themselves feel less lonely at the same time.”
Owens also said that people are looking for emotional support in pets during this time of isolation. “People are almost certainly looking for emotional support during physical distancing. Human beings are built to be social and to be together. This well-intended physical separation is bound to take an emotional toll on all of us.”
Along with the US, the UK has also witnessed an increased number of people opening up their homes to pets. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in London reported that since people have been spending time at home after the lockdown, it has inspired many to provide new homes for pets.
The pet home revealed that for the week starting March 9, the animal shelter found forever homes for 39 dogs and 52 cats. However, the next week starting March 16, the numbers increased as 86 dogs and 69 cats were rehomed, showing how a week of lockdown can make a huge difference. The numbers showed that not only dogs, but people are also wholeheartedly welcoming cats.
“I think it probably has to do with the fact that dogs need to be walked and cats do not. Some people are taking the advice to stay away from others, which means they should stay inside. Getting outside for a walk is OK as long as you keep your distance from other people,” Owens stated as he added, “Animal adoption will ensure the survival of many animals who otherwise would not live through the crisis.
“In addition, it will improve the mental health of the people who take in the animals. In a lot of ways, this crisis has given us all an opportunity to come closer together and has inspired renewed respect for the larger natural world in which we all live.”