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Foster pets help people fight loneliness, anxiety as applications see 90% increase amid coronavirus lockdown

Numerous studies have found that pets can lower blood pressure and help in reducing stress
UPDATED APR 25, 2020
Layla the dog waits as paperwork is completed to take her to a new foster home at the Animal Rescue of New Orleans on March 24, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana (Getty Images)
Layla the dog waits as paperwork is completed to take her to a new foster home at the Animal Rescue of New Orleans on March 24, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana (Getty Images)

The lockdown and social distancing guidelines have us confined to the comfort of our homes and working remotely.

However, being cooped in the same space for days on end can do your head in. In case you're running out of options to add some excitement to your life while trying to battle the boredom, anxiety and loneliness that has set in during the lockdown, here's an idea: Get a pet! Better yet, don't buy a pet from the store but adopt one instead!

"It’s sort of the perfect storm of factors that have allowed people to foster at this time," says Kitty Block, president, and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. "People are home, working remotely, feeling socially isolated. This is not a usual thing for us. Having that dog or cat or hamster does make a big difference."

So it should come as no surprise that animal foster requests have significantly increased during the pandemic as more and more people are welcoming animals into their homes. Block told Time that animal rescue organizations across the country are experiencing at least a 90% increase in foster applications.

Cats, dogs, rabbits, and more domestic animals have been loyal companions of man since time immemorial. But in unprecedented and chaotic times like this people are turning to them for emotional support. Studies have found that pets can lower blood pressure and help in reducing stress. Dog and cat owners are less likely to be depressed and overall, pets help boost healthy development in children.

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Animals can be a great companion when you're feeling bouts of loneliness or just feeling like your mental health has taken a turn for the worse amid this crisis.

Many of us are quarantining with our families but just as many haven't been that lucky on that front. Those that had moved out of their homes and live independently may be having a hard time with no one to lean on. A new pet could be the answer to that.

Furthermore, pets are a cute distraction from the current events and a sure cure for your boredom as taking care of a pet is also requires time and effort, and in exchange, they give you their love and attention.

The coronavirus lockdowns seem to be a good time to become a  pet owner, even if it's for a short time. 

Shelters based in every state, from California to New York have called for people to consider adopting pets to help them through this hard time. People who've suddenly found themselves being stuck at home have responded in umpteen numbers enabling these shelters to provide many of their animals with a home. They also hope that as some previous trends insinuate, many of the temporary owners may ultimately decide to give their pet a forever home.

Approximately 6.5 million dogs and cats enter animal shelters across the country, annually, details a data compiled by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and at least 1.5 million of these animals are put down. According to the Daily Beast, the ASPCA's foster programs in New York City and Los Angeles have experienced about 70% increase in animals being fostered.

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"Animals provide invaluable comfort and companionship, especially during times of crisis," Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA said to Glamour, and also added that shelters are "desperate." Questions regarding pets being carriers of the virus have also popped up occasionally to which the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said, "At this time, there is no evidence that companion animals, including pets, can spread COVID-19." The only thing that's probably infectious is the unconditional love we receive from these animals.

 This boom in foster applicants is helping animal shelters and rescue organizations immensely, especially with the persisting economic recession at the moment. Just as other businesses and organizations that have been directly affected by the pandemic, they have also been struggling with the repercussions. Donations have dried up and a majority of volunteers have been asked to remain in their homes, which means there aren't enough hands-on helpers to aid with the shelters. An upsetting truth is also that people have been abandoning their pets at animal organizations for financial deficits and fear of the animals also spreading the virus.