The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased the number of people working from home and finding themselves lacking the everyday socialization they once received. As a result, many people turned to animals for the companionship they missed. This created a sudden boost in the amount of animal adoptions and fosters.
Many, if not all, of us have seen video and heard the news of “empty shelters”. While it is certainly true that a handful of shelters were empty, the majority of the animal shelters in the U.S. did not become empty. The increase in animal adoptions and fosters may have more consequences than just happy animals.
People have more time to care for their pets
As spring begins to make itself known, “kitten season” may put pet owners and fosters in unfamiliar territory. Not only will “kitten season” cause an increase in veterinary clinic visits, but increased pet ownership will increase clinic visits as well.
First-time pet owners have a large learning curve compared to experienced pet owners. First-time pet owner attitudes can range anywhere from “I need to bring my puppy in for every change” to “You need to bring cats to the vet?” Not only can this lead to potentially life-threatening emergencies, but the surge of questions can increase the daily number of phone calls a clinic receives and responds to.
Experienced pet owners who now work from home are spending more time with their pets. This allows pet owners to spot potential health problems quicker than ever. And a new-found flexibility with their schedules makes scheduling and keeping veterinary appointments easier.
The increase in pet ownership and working-from-home pet owners creates an increase in veterinary clinic visits which places a higher demand on veterinary professionals, their time, and their resources.
Keeping disease rates low
With more animals in more homes, there is an increased risk of zoonotic diseases. When this is coupled with the strained resources of medical health professionals, entire communities can find themselves in stressful situations.
Even though SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is a zoonotic disease, the risk of transmission between animals in people is relatively low. However, diseases such as Lyme disease, chlamydia, and toxoplasmosis have serious consequences for those who are most at-risk for COVID-19. In other words, zoonotic disease control and prevention is a responsibility that many veterinarians remain dedicated to during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Veterinarians keep pets and communities healthy
As animal lovers, empty and/or low-occupancy shelters are heartwarming to see. Even though we all know there are still plenty more animals that need help, we love to see good doggos and kitties go to loving homes.
As veterinary professionals, it is our duty to ensure that we provide the best care for our patients. No matter what shape, size, or breed our patients are, all of them play an important part in their respective families.
In times of need, people turn to animals for companionship. It’s our duty to make sure that this need for companionship safely fulfilled for our patients and their families.