Owning A Pet During The COVID-19 Pandemic: What are the benefits?
By: Aaliyah Jewel Wingfield
On March 11th, 2020 COVID-19 was declared an international pandemic. The World seemingly stopped as we were all placed on temporary lockdown to slow the spread. Since then, many people have taken to adopting pets as companions. No doubt, this is a tough time; but how do you decide if this is something you should do?
Owning a pet is a huge responsibility. There should be reflection on the commitment you make before buying or adopting a pet. Pets can be expensive. Vet and occasional kennel fees (along with basic care like grooming and food) add up. You will need to be able to set aside money allocated for your animal. For example, Initial fees for shots and boosters can go for upwards of $80-$100 USD. However, there are ways to cut corners around these heavy expenses. “Often animal shelters charge less for vaccines — approximately $20.00 — or are even free. If you acquired your dog from a shelter, they would most likely have been vaccinated, up until the age when you got them” says akc.org.
There should also be a process in which you find the animal that best fits your lifestyle. Each animal has a different personality and needs that need to be met for them to live comfortably. For instance, I live in an apartment with limited space, so I go for small dogs (ex:Yorkshire Terriers, Pekingese, Bulldogs and Chihuahuas). Larger animals (such as Pitbulls, Great Danes, Hounds, Retrievers) need more outdoor space and exercise, which can be difficult to provide for them during a pandemic if you don’t have a backyard area.
You will also have to put time into training and spending time with your pet. There are many techniques to this available online, and since many people are spending more time at home, they’ll be able to do so. The most popular techniques include positive reinforcement (where you reward your animal with treats or affection for completing a trained task), and positive punishment (where you ignore their bad behavior such as jumping on you at the door or on the bed). Although, there are many more techniques. You can research and choose the animal and breed that works for you based on what type of training you are trying to reinforce.
There are upsides to taking on this responsibility, though. Animals are great companions, especially if you’re living alone during these uncertain times. They can provide friendship as a mental and emotional relief to distract from the harsh realities of what we’re facing as a collective. “One of the only positives to my day has been seeing my dog, and it's only been the only reason I've had to go outside.” says Kellen Coates (19), who owns one dog and two cats. “It's nice to see your pets at a time like this [because] of all that unconditional love they have to give, as well them having no clue what's actually going on, they're just happy we're home with them!”
Of course, these times won’t last forever so you’ll need to be able to commit to the idea of being responsible for this pet long after we move out of the effects of this pandemic. They will still require the same care and attention when our lives slowly graduate back to normalcy. But if you decide that caring for an animal is a task you are patient and willing to dedicate yourself to, then go for it! It is equally as amazing and rewarding—as trying and time-consuming as it is.