By: Jessica Peraza
I’m certain about two things in this pandemic: Masks are critical, and I spend entirely too much time with my dog.
I adopted Luci last fall exactly three weeks after getting married – for better or worse! Since then, she’s ruined an end table, two pairs of earphones and about seven of my favorite shoes. She’s also kept me company on walks, watched countless episodes of Gilmore Girls on my lap, and unintentionally taken over my Instagram feed.
Of course, much like a new baby, a puppy or kitten require constant attention. I cannot tell you the amount of times I’ve left Luci alone for five minutes only to come back to a chewed shoe. And while it may be frustrating and stressful in the moment, I tend to forget about her mishaps as soon as she curls up next to me for a nap.
During the pandemic, people have once again found comfort in the companionship of their furry friends. Many spend more time at home, and shelters across the U.S. have seen record numbers of cat and dog adoptions. In Arizona alone, the Arizona Humane Society reported a decrease in average length of stay for both dogs and cats by nearly 10 days, meaning pets spend less time in a shelter before finding a temporary or permanent home. Unfortunately, shelters also face the potential dilemma of having an influx of pets returned once shelter-in-place is over.
Our research team conducted a survey in 2019 for our client Dignity Health that highlighted the health and happiness benefits of pet companionship. The survey of more than 1,000 Americans found 88% of pet parents said their pet had helped improve their mental health. Pets can provide the emotional support people may need in times of stress or uncertainty – whether you’re in the hospital recovering from an illness or stuck at home in the middle of a global pandemic. The survey also found:
- Pets are good for the soul – 95% of pet parents said their pet made them a happier person.
- Pets are good listeners – 62% of pet parents said their pets are always there to listen to them when faced with a problem – only 38% said the same about their significant other…
- Pets make us better people – More than one third (38%) of pet parents said their pet taught them skills that helped them improve their personal relationships.
- Pets keep us healthy – 81% of pet parents said they felt their pet made them a healthier person.
- Pets help us heal – 85% of pet parents who had a major health issue said their pet helped them feel better.
This year’s been ruff (pun absolutely intended), but I am so grateful for Luci. She forces me to go outside for some fresh air when I have a bad day. She gives me an excuse to call my sister twice a day to show her just how cute she is being while doing absolutely nothing. Most importantly, she’s there. Every minute of every day, your pet is your companion, and all they want is for you to give them love (and treats).
Many of us will eventually return to some form of our previously hectic schedules, and some pet parents may feel like they no longer have time to care for their dog or cat. My hope is that foster parents will ultimately give their temporary house guests a fur-ever home.
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Jessica Peraza is an account director at Allison+Partners in the Phoenix office. She focuses on community and media relations strategies for consumer clients and specializes in reaching Latino audiences.