Puppies, kittens, and other pandemic pets seem to be everywhere these days: your Facebook feed, neighborhood streets, dog parks, vet offices, and local businesses. It may seem like everyone you know adopted or bought a pet during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
While this might be an exaggeration, the increase in the number of pet owners is not. The number of owners is at an all time high with 70% of U.S. households owning a pet, a 3% increase from last year, according to industry group American Pet Products Association. And existing pet owners pampered their pets more, with 35% saying they spent more on their pets this year than last year, according to a report in Pet Business on the. APPA’s 2021-2022 national pet owner survey.
The loneliness and isolation created by the pandemic has made people turn to the companionship and joy that pets bring. But now that people are venturing out into the world again or returning to work, some wonder how Fluffy, Fido, and Fifi play a role in the picture.
“What could be better than a cute new addition to bring some joy to families in these uncertain times?” Says Emily McHugh, owner of Off the Leash Doggie Daycare in Attleboro.
For many new pet owners, adoption during the pandemic was not just due to increased time spent at home.
Shane Matlock of Attleboro, who owns The Burgundian food trucks and will soon open a physical location on Park Street in the city, thought a pet would fit into his family’s life and added a Great Pyrenees Golden mix. Retriever named D’Artagnan in May.
âThis (adopting a dog) was something we felt was necessary as our children faced increased anxiety and time spent at home,â he said. “We were doing more walks and hikes – we just realized we were finally ready to add a puppy.”
Tricia Prata, a Seekonk resident who works in the high school office, expressed similar feelings. She said her decision in February to adopt Hal, an unknown breed of rescue dog, was driven by the fact that she had always wanted a dog and now was the right time.
Matlock found the breeder he adopted D’Artagnan from through the American Kennel Club, while Prata found Hal through the Louisiana-based CENLA Alliance Animals. Both owners keep their dogs fit and well trained. Matlock trains D’Artagnan through Maynard Training, a veteran-owned company that comes to his house.
Prata took Hal to a dog preschool class at Canine Mastery in Seekonk, which helped her learn more about dog ownership and teach Hal basic puppy manners and commands. In addition to training, both owners enjoy keeping their dogs extremely active. Prata takes Hal to the dog park, the beach and hiking with her.
Matlock and Prata both returned to work in person, but it won’t be a problem for their puppies. Thankfully, these locals work close to home and have the option of going back and forth during their lunch breaks to give the dogs a chance to get out and be cuddled on their owners’ working days.
âAdopting my dog, Hal, was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made,â said Prata.
However, many owners don’t have the option of stopping by the house for a quick visit during the day – that’s when doggy day care comes in.
Off the Leash Doggie Daycare in Attleboro has been on the phone, its business booming as the reopening continues.
âWe are currently on a waiting list for our child care services and have been for some time – even before the pandemic,â McHugh said. âThis increase in demand has been constant since our reopening, indicating that people continue to have new fur babies throughout this pandemic. “
Like many businesses, the dog daycare temporarily closed at the start of the pandemic, but after it reopened in May 2020, their old customers have faithfully returned and a few new customers have brought their puppies.
But what really thrives at Off the Leash is their dog training programs, which are aimed at puppies.
âWe are pleased to see families making a commitment to training their new additions and continuing to provide socializing opportunities for their dogs,â said McHugh.
A healthy dog ââis also a top priority for pet owners, and there has been a shift in the demand for veterinary services in many parts of the country, leaving shortages in some states and reports of long wait times. waiting for appointments.
The authors, economist Mathew Salois and veterinarian Gail Golab, cite data from analytics firm VetSuccess showing that vet clinic appointments increased between 2019 and 2020, but also showed that revenue growth was driven by existing customers. They also suggested that the backlog of fewer patients seen in the first few months of the pandemic, coupled with less time available to see patients due to safety protocols, increasing awareness of pet owners to the needs for good. -being of their animals and staff turnover attributed to various causes, could also be the cause of longer waiting times in clinics.
Karen April, hospital director at Norton Animal Hospital, draws attention to the fact that many veterinarians are leaving the profession due to severe burnout. April said in August the clinic was feeling the effects of burnout with just two full-time vets and no new applicants.
April said appointments were made two months in advance, when, as in pre-pandemic years, they would only be made two weeks.
Bristol County Veterinary Hospital in Seekonk has seen a 30% increase in patient numbers since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, according to Stacy Havner, the hospital’s director.
âWe’ve developed a really good system,â Havner said of their curbside service. â(This) was helpful because it allowed us to only bring pets to the hospital and then report back to clients. “
Havner points out that people paid more attention to their fuzzy friends and were able to spot signs of illness while they were at home with them. Many pets also need vaccines that they did not receive by staying home during confinement. These two reasons, combined with people adopting puppies and kittens, created a busy environment in the veterinarian’s office.
Hayner said the clinic had been booked in advance for new and existing clients.
While the world of pet services is busy, they may not be local animal shelters as some have kept the possibility of impulse adoptions in mind as they attempt to reunite with their loved ones. animals forever over the past year and a half.
Data used by the American Veterinary Medical Association suggests that the total number of pet adoptions in 2020 fell to the lowest point in five years because there was a smaller pool of animals for adoption. However, the authors said the adoption rate has increased, suggesting that more animals available have been adopted.
The Attleboro Animal Shelter uses an intensive dog adoption control process to prevent animals from returning to the shelter. Kim Penque, a volunteer at the shelter, says the uncertainty of the coronavirus prompted the shelter to only have one adopted dog during the closures.
âThe goal is to get dogs into a home, but beyond that the goal is to get dogs into homes forever,â Penque said. âI felt there was just too much uncertainty with COVIDâ¦ what will happen to this animal when life returns to normal? It was my fear behind the choice not to adopt during COVID. “
According to Andrea Russo, deputy animal control officer, the Seekonk animal shelter had an influx of potential adoptees looking at their animals, but with the same animal inventory as a pre-coronavirus year, there was no enough pets for all potential new adopters.
Although no animals have been returned to any of the shelters due to a change of mind as the pandemic continues, Russo said the Seekonk Animal Shelter has seen an increase in the number of unclaimed dogs.
Have a any interesting news that you would like to see mentioned in the “Along the Way” column? Email it to Emma Leeuwenburgh at [email protected]