The pandemic has had a huge impact on our collective mental health. Feelings of anxiety and grief are compounded when we treat them in isolation. For many of us at Pasadena Humane, the companionship of animals has played a huge role in our ability to cope.
We are not the only ones to have found comfort in our four-legged friends. Pet owners also know the joy of sharing their life with a furry companion. However, until recently, many did not realize how good pets are for their mental health.
Pasadena Humane recently sent out a survey asking members of our community what quarantine was and what they looked like, and how pets have helped them through this crisis.
One respondent wrote: “It feels endless, isolating and at times overwhelming.” Others spoke of feelings of loneliness, anger, fear and sadness over the loss of freedom. In addition to the stresses associated with job loss and financial insecurity, parents have also expressed concerns about their children’s mental health.
The longer the pandemic continues, the harder it is to cope with it.
Not surprisingly, pets have been a bright spot and a source of comfort for many, according to our survey.
For a single mother of two boys, the shepherd mix of the family, Scout, has been “the star of the house” during the pandemic. She wrote: “Scout made us laugh and hugged us. She wanted to play ball and keep us upright. When she realized there was friction or frustration, she stung you to distract you from the stress. Without her, I don’t know how we could have survived. My sons were sick. Scout helped get them through and gave me the love I needed to stay strong for them.
Long before the CDC began educating people on how to protect themselves during the current pandemic, the CDC was warning of potential health benefits for pets, including lower blood pressure and decreased feelings of loneliness. . Having a dog has been linked to a decreased likelihood of childhood anxiety. Pets also provide people with increased opportunities for exercise, outdoor activities, and socialization.
The research is clear, as is the anecdotal evidence, that pets enrich our lives and help us stay healthy and happy. Shelters across the country, including Pasadena Humane, have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people wishing to adopt or welcome pets.
As the pandemic continues with no end in sight, members of our community will continue to experience difficult times. Knowing the mutual benefits for people and pets, at Pasadena Humane we do everything we can to place homeless animals into loving families, through dating-based and socially distant adoption practices. .
In addition to helping families adopt a pet, we provide services to help keep pets with their families. We would never want to see an animal separated from its family due to financial hardship. Our pet food bank and other support services are expanding to meet growing demand.
Prior to working in animal welfare, I worked for many years as a mental health social worker. The animal welfare community sees the need to adopt social work and case management practices to truly meet the needs of the animals in our community and the people who love them.
Pasadena Humane will continue to stay at the forefront of best practices to support the human-animal bond. We know 2020 hasn’t been an easy year, and we also know that our pets can provide us with better mental health – now when we need it most.