Isolation has taken away a very important aspect of our everyday lives — socialization. When quarantine began, people grew increasingly lonely as they saw their friends less and less. Even though people have started seeing their friends again — in person or on screen — there is still an ongoing struggle with loneliness, and it is during this time that people have found much comfort in their pets.
Having a pet during quarantine has improved people’s state of minds. A companion full of unconditional love and loyalty is just what people need during these tough times.
“A sense of purpose is important for human beings,” said Dr. Nicole Fisher, the founder and president of Health & Human Rights Strategies, a health care and human rights firm, in an article for Forbes. “As is a need to feel connected, which offsets loneliness and brings joy. By providing companionship, pets can combat depression.”
Depression has always been a problem, but when quarantine began in March, the number of depression cases have more than tripled. Many people have turned to their loving furry companions to help combat this mental illness.
“[My family] figured [getting a dog] would give us something to do during quarantine and we knew it was going to make our lives a lot happier” said Emmylin Adler ‘22, who got a new puppy in August.
Whether it’s playing fetch with a dog or cuddling a cat, interacting with pets provides a good distraction from the hardships the world is facing.
“[My dog] makes it a lot easier to enjoy what I have and forget the problems” said Josh Moore ‘21, the new owner of an 8 week old mini golden lab.
Along with depression, there has also been an increase in anxiety and stress amongst people these past several months. Simply petting a dog or cat can release oxytocin that lowers stress levels.
“Having a pet leads to a release in calming endorphins – oxytocin.” said Fisher, “Increased calmness can also be associated with simple activities such as watching the smooth nature of a swimming fish.”
It is not only humans that have benefited from the new need for pets, though. As people are more desperate for an animal companion, people are fostering, adopting and saving animals across the country, making animal shelters nearly empty.
“It saves a life and enriches the foster family’s life as well,” said Nichole Dandrea, a spokesperson for Best Friends Animal Society, in an article for the U.S. News. “We put out a plea because of the [pandemic], and given the fact that folks are working from home now and kids are home from school, a lot of people who have thought about fostering in the past but are never home were able to do it.”
People across the country have realized how important pets are and the significant qualities they bring. Pets bring joy during the most stressful times and provide companionship during the loneliest of times.
“[My dog] has definitely made me a lot happier and she’s definitely getting rid of my sense of loneliness,” said Adler. “I don’t really get to see friends anymore but I get to see this little ball of joy whenever she’s awake.”