How Pets Have Helped During the Pandemic

Posted 9 Weeks Ago

It’s safe to say that many of us have turned to our pets to help us endure this challenging time. In fact, demand for adopting or fostering pets has soared in the past year, as people have turned to furry companions to help them cope amid lengthy lockdowns.

Pets have always been a source of comfort but, in recent months, the term ‘emotional support animal’ has taken on a new meaning. For those of us who live alone, our pets may well have been our only source of affection. And they have been there for many of us in times of loneliness and grief, when the ability to socialise has been limited.

Aside from companionship, being a pet owner gives a person purpose, and a reason to go out and exercise. Things that have proved more important than ever during the pandemic.

According to a research conducted by the University of York, “more than 90 per cent of respondents said their pet helped them cope emotionally with the lockdown and 96 per cent said their pet helped keep them fit and active.”

Examples of How Animal Friends Have Provided Additional Comfort in Hard Times

Newsbeat profiled a number of individuals who found comfort in animals during the crisis and who feel they owe much of their sanity to them:

  • 24-year-old Francesca is registered blind and credits her guide dog, Sean, for giving her a reason to go out each day throughout lockdown and preventing her from losing confidence. Initially, Francesca was very nervous about trying to maintain social distancing on dog walks, but Sean picked up on this and would turn around to help reassure her.

  • 24-year-old Raisa, who struggles with anxiety and depression, has had her kitten, Chip, since January. Having been working as a stage manager, Raisa felt very anxious when the theatres first closed their doors and couldn’t see an end to the lockdown. Adopting Chip has given Raisa something to get out of bed for, as well as a great sense of entertainment.

 

  • 16-year-old Mia has autism, and she has really struggled adapting to home-learning without the comfort of Max, her support dog at school. Mia regularly receives photo updates of Max, dressed up in various costumes, and although she has not been able to visit him throughout lockdown, Max has still managed to lift her spirits.

 

Although the impact of pet ownership on a person’s wellbeing remains inconclusive, it’s clear that interacting with animals can have a range of benefits to our mental and physical health. For people around the world, animal companionship has helped tackle feelings of isolation and anxiety brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.