This week we want to focus on a big positive – the huge surge in dog and other pet adoptions.
We first saw reports of an increase in pet adoptions in late March as the first effects of early lockdown efforts started to be felt. By the end of that month almost half the US population was in some sort of restriction – urged to work from home, avoid bars, restaurants or any large gatherings, and exercise social distancing. And that is when things really began to take off.
In New York, where it’s been normal or even expected to lament “I don’t have time to take care of a dog” or “ It would be cruel to have a dog in my small apartment”, some foster organizations saw a 100% increase in applications in March alone. To add to the shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer and bottled water as NYC became the epicenter of the pandemic, we saw a shortage of dogs to rescue. In fact, two organizations, Muddy Paws Rescue and Best Friends Animal Society, reported running out of cats and dogs after a surge in applications of as much as 10-fold in the last two weeks of March.
It wasn’t just emotionally needy New Yorkers driving the adoptions surge. Other cities such as Los Angeles and Washington saw similar increases in the same time frame. Many shelters such as Chicago Animal Care and Control reported running out of dogs for the first time. This awesome video shows the volunteers at Friends of Palm Beach County Animal Care cheering after every dog was adopted and the shelter was empty for the first time in their history. When Dumb Friends League, a private animal shelter in Denver, put out a call for volunteers to foster dogs, cats, bunnies, guinea pigs and even horses, more than 2,200 people signed up.
And it is not just in cities. As parents in the suburbs struggled to keep their kids occupied, dogs and other pets became the cost-effective solution as well as a way of reassuring their kids that life goes on and everything will be ok. Aside from serving to strengthen family bonds in general, pets are also helping to ease the anxiety felt by adults and children alike and reaffirming the joys in life of unconditional love and a slurp and a snuggle.
Let’s not forget all the health benefits associated with pet ownership. In times of lockdown specifically, they help alleviate anxieties and provide a permissible way to get fresh air, Vitamin D and exercise. In general, research shows the health benefits of pets include reduced blood pressure and increased cardiovascular health while overall, dog owners tend to live longer than non-owners. And they often recover better from major health events such as a heart attack or stroke, especially if they live alone.
And one last piece of good news. Research shows that there is no known reason to believe that pets can spread COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus.
Certainly, it seems a good time to be invested in pet company shares. The U.S. pet economy is projected to expand by 3.9% this year to a record $75.4 billion. The biggest part of pet spending is food, seen rising 4.5% to $31.7 billion this year, according to the American Pet Products Association. General Mills recently reported that sales for Blue Buffalo, the natural pet food business it bought last year, rose 11% over the past year. Another category of pet spending, veterinary care, is estimated to rise 4.8% this year to $19 billion. Vet visits are becoming more frequent, diagnostic and therapy choices are expanding, and pets are living longer. Also on the rise is pet insurance. And finally, watch out for pet tech – Actijoy can track pet activity levels, Mira-Pet makes electric toothbrushes for dogs, Wagz has smart collars and treat cams while Instachew makes the Cozy Smart Pet Cave, with WiFi-enabled temperature control and sleep analytics.
So, if you don’t already have one, it may be a good time to adopt a puppy! If you are ready to make a lifelong commitment a pet can bring a simple but profound joy to your life!
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