Mckenzie Ford for The Easterner
Animal shelters, vets, pets and pet owners everywhere are having to change in new and unexpected ways.
Although this is unusual, it isn’t the first time that pets have had to endure a pandemic. According to Vox, in 1918 there was an outbreak of the Spanish Influenza, and some pet owners resorted to putting face masks on their pets.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is not advising people to put face masks on their pets, but they do want people to keep their pets away from people or other pets outside of the household.
If a pet needs to see a vet, the process has changed from previous months. The Cheney Vet Clinic (CVC) is not allowing pet owners inside their building, but rather obtaining the patients from the pet owner’s car before bringing them inside for whatever the pet’s needs are.
“It’s been a challenge because it’s been a lot more extra steps,” said Catherine Gauna from the CVC.
The CVC is able to provide the same medical procedures for pets as before, but they are limiting the amount of wellness checks they are accepting.
After the pet is returned to its owner, the doctor will either call the pet owner or visit them outside with a mask and gloves on. When it is time for the owner to pay, they can pay online or if they need to pay in cash or credit the CVC will Lysol the cash or card.
“It’s actually been kind of busy just because it seems like people have time to bring them in,” said Gauna. “People work all day so they aren’t able to bring them in for vaccines as often so people are coming in to get that type of stuff done.”
Animal shelters have been experiencing a variety of changes as well.
“All over the country, from New York to Wisconsin and North Carolina to Colorado and New Mexico, animal shelters are reporting massive upswings in the numbers of animals they’ve been able to adopt out or place in foster homes,” said WIRED magazine.
Another change SHS has had to face is that the staff has had to take over all of the care for the animals, whereas usually there is an influx of volunteers helping exercise and walk dogs. Without being able to accept volunteers due to COVID-19, the dogs are not getting as much exercise and attention as normal.
Changes in lifestyle and routine have affected pets’ mental health as well.
“Some [pets] don’t seem to have any idea that their owners’ routines have changed — or if they do, they don’t care,” saidM. Leanne Lilly, a professor of veterinary behavioral medicine from Ohio State University while behing interviewed by Vox reporter Michael Waters. “But still others are finding the sudden disruption to be a stressful experience.”
Some pet owners at EWU have seen changes in their pets’ behavior since the COVID-19 quarantine began.
“My cat hasn’t left me alone the whole time,” said Ethan Guerin. “ At first she seemed confused, but eventually she started spending all of her time around me.”
“(He’s) just more clingy,” said Shawn Dunfrene about her cat. “He always wants in your face or lap, and rarely leaves the room if we’re in it.”
“She’s getting used to us being home all the time now,” said Alexander Brooks about their roommate’s dog. “So when we go out for groceries she freaks out more than before.”
While pets and animals are not aware that there is a pandemic ongoing, they can still be impacted by changes to their lifestyle. It may be challenging for pet owners whose pets are stressed during this time because people cannot change the quarantine restrictions in place. Animals can be stressed due to the change in their routine such as limited walks, no visits to dog parks or changes in food due to shortages. The articles below list a wide variety of ways to help deal with stressed cats and dogs.