Pets in a pandemic – lifestyle choice

        


Across the globe, pets are a very important and integral part of lives for animal lovers. Be it dogs, cats, birds or fish or any other animal – each pet has its own place in the lives and heart of its owner/s. I personally am a dog lover and have owned a few previously. I find them quite intriguing and a joy to own. Pets help and impact lives in many ways – some owners use their animals for health and disability support, some just love pets for what they are, some own for their family support and some own for business. Each class of pet owners has their personal/ professional reasons and justification to own and raise a pet animal.

For some, it’s a lifestyle choice and for some, it’s a necessity to have a pet animal around at all times. If you have been binge-watching Netflix on TV lately, you would have certainly come across Tiger King documentary. The series was mostly about how exotic animals are bred in American private institutions and sold to interested pet owners who crave exotic animals – either as a lifestyle choice or for social status. To me, the series was a sad reminder of animal cruelty & exploitation that is still true and exists in today’s world.

Pets are known for selfless love for their owners. Pets living with owners in pandemic has had both positive and negative impact on owner lives. I came across a mixed bag of stories on the internet and within my network of contacts. For some, owning pets has been blessing in disguise to handle the stressful times of a pandemic with a stay at home orders and for others, pets have become a financial burden with many owners facing dwindling personal finances in a time of crisis, thus elevating stress levels furthermore.

To provide more context, there are various stories making rounds on the internet where veterinary and animal activists have faced an uptick on cases in which owners have abandoned their pets due to financial stress and anxiety. There is even worry among some pet owners that Covid-19/ Coronavirus could be transmitted to animals from humans – even though the theory is not conclusive and currently in being researched by various public health agencies around the world. Take for example the story from Delhi, India where a veterinary professional has taken up upon himself to help the abandoned and injured former pets and provide them shelter in times of Covid lock-down.

Nevertheless, even though there are few negatives of owning pet/s during the pandemic, the positive effects are far greater. For example – pets are deemed to be incredibly beneficial for mental health. This is true for many individuals and families in Canada and across the globe. A simple interaction, walk in the park and stroking your pet – does wonders for folks who are stuck alone or under lock-down for extended period due to pandemic. Given this month has mental health awareness week (until 10th of May), it becomes very important that individuals are able to take professional help where needed as the stress levels have gone up due to uncertainty around employment, pandemic duration, work safety, recreational spaces and many other factors in the crisis. 

Another example of positive effects for pet-owning families is the ability of pet animals to bond, spend time, and play with children. This is turning to be a very important factor for many parents to keep their sanity intact in times of extended home lock-down with children. Given the schools have been closed in Ontario, Canada for almost 50 days now – it has caused parents to appreciate the schools so much more. Speaking for myself, I have developed enormous respect for my child’s school teachers in the past few weeks. They have supported at school in the pre-pandemic era by diverting my child’s never-ending-energy-supply towards learning in constructive and unique ways. Spending seven-days-a-week with children has been eye-opening, as it requires constant round the clock attention to their deeds and demands. The parental sentiment (quite funny) is shared in one of the recent episodes done by Jimmy Kimmel in showing appreciation to teachers for National Teachers Appreciation Week where random parents appreciate their child’s teacher and share their feelings about staying at home with their children. Anyhow, what I wanted to stress is that folks who have pets at home have the additional resources available to get their children engaged under pandemic lock-down. For instance – my friend who owns a dog is happier than me because his kids are always playing with their dog at home thus giving him more personal time. I do not get that privilege. Thus it makes sense in the majority of scenarios to own a pet where families have a demanding brood/ kids.

Similarly another plus of owning a pet during a pandemic is them acting as security guards or vigilantes. There have been many examples in news during pandemic about porch piracy and how pets have foiled many attempts of such thefts. In one news, there is an innovative instance of how a pet owner used dog poop to give the thieves a stinky surprise and deter them from future thefts. To me, I think porch piracy is disgraceful and should be deterred in any way possible. And what best way to do than with your beloved pet animal.

Another positive reason to have pets during a pandemic is when they second up as exercise associates or consultants. Physical health is as important as mental health. With gyms and sports clubs closed indefinitely due to pandemic, it becomes important that individuals take good care of their own health. Some folks have developed an indoor exercise routine while some exercise outdoors (like biking, in their backyard, etc.). Be it a routine workout or stumbling to keep yourself fit until the stay-at-home order lasts, pets have a vital role to play as support exercise partners and great motivators during the pandemic.

Overall, from my perspective, there are more positives than negatives in owning a pet animal during the pandemic and lock-down. Yet, as true for every decision in life, we need to be aware of the pros and cons associated with our lifestyle decisions. To me, having a pet animal/s seems quite an excellent lifestyle choice when stuck with a global pandemic ‘at home’.

Comments

  1. Pets are life savers, they drag you back to life from any hell hole, no matter how bad day you had just when we spend few minutes with them we gain the strength and peacefulness back.

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