Coping with Pets

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The Smuckler's dog, Chloe, enjoys playing outside and going on walks with the family

Families around the Kansas City area are devoting their free time to help a different cause, one that helps lower the amount of animals kept in shelters and spreads positivity to families during the COVID-19 pandemic: fostering and adopting animals. 

According to The New York Times, the KC Pet Project, a nonprofit organization in Kansas City, received 250 requests to foster pets in four days. They usually consider a successful day to be 10 pets finding new homes. 

One family at BVN, junior Hannah and sophomore Marah Smucker, were hoping to adopt a new dog around springtime. And with the stay at home order implemented, the Smucklers decided the extra time at home would be the perfect circumstance to adopt.  

“We went right at the beginning of quarantine to adopt our dog, and the lady at Wayside Waifs said they were selling about 25 dogs a day,” Marah said. “I don’t know if this number was from the quarantine, but they were selling a lot of dogs.”

Although some are closed right now due to the quarantine, local animal shelters have had to adjust to the recent demand in pets. Shelters like KC Pet Project are taking advantage of Zoom to set up virtual visits and connect possible owners with pets that are up for adoption. Other shelters are simply running out of animals to care for because so many citizens are looking for ways to stay occupied. 

“Once our older brother’s school got cancelled, we realized that we were going to be bored with nothing to do,” Hannah Smuckler said. “So we started asking our parents more and more until they said we could go to the shelter.”

Another student, junior Justin Talcott, adopted a kitten during the quarantine and has seen benefits from the new member of the family.

“I don’t play with my kitten too much because I don’t want to fight with my sisters over it,” Talcott said. “But for my family though, the cat has kept my younger sisters entertained and gives them something to do during the day.”

Besides keeping humans entertained, animals also possess a range of other benefits. Dog owners find themselves getting fresh air when taking their pet for a walk, and animals also provide a sense of companionship that can ease feelings of loneliness and isolation. According to The Independent, “an otherwise isolated person can become more a part of their community by the simple act of walking their dog or chatting about their pet to another person.”

“Our dog, Chloe, keeps us entertained, and, because she is so young, she requires a lot of attention,” Marah Smuckler said. “We also walk her three times a day and we play with her, so she has been keeping us busy.”

And for Talcott’s family, their cat, Oakley, has been a source of happiness that seems to brighten the time in quarantine.

“My mom and sisters have had so much fun playing with the kitten,” Talcott said. “I think that Oakley has made our time in quarantine much brighter and enjoyable, and given us something to look forward to every day.”

A correlation has been proven that animals can improve mental health, and during months of social isolation, this can have significant importance to many individuals. “Research shows that animals help older adults cope better with social isolation—that is, being physically separated from others—and with loneliness,” says tufts.edu.