Furry friends keep their owner’s spirits up during the pandemic.

By Sophia Gerner
February 7, 2021

Owning a pet can be a great opportunity that increases people’s well-being, mental health and even physical activity.

Photo by Sophia Gerner.

“There have been studies that suggest that dogs and humans have evolved to have a relationship. When a dog owner and a dog look at each other both brains fire in the areas related to affection,” Dr. Ruta Clair, assistant professor in Cabrini’s psychology department, said.

Clair is a pet owner herself with two dogs at home named Gus and Tugger. She has always had a dog in her life and loves spending time with them.

Ninety percent of pet owners said in a survey their pets had helped them cope emotionally while being in lockdown.

“Pets can provide a type of social support that has positive impact on health and wellbeing,” Clair said. She said the time spent with our pets could reduce feelings of social isolation, especially when we consider them as a part of our family.

But the intense time spent during the pandemic may have a down side when people return to ordinary routines outside the home.

She is concerned that our pets might not also be prepared to be alone after spending every day with their owners during lockdown or that the owners won’t put in the time needed for their pets to adjust after returning to their normal lives.

Clair doesn’t believe that everyone has to have a pet, but everyone has to have social connections. Social isolation, like what people are experiencing with the pandemic, has a negative effect on a person’s well-being. For some, a pet could be the key to the positivity needed for a healthier mentality.

Photo of Lilly. Provided by Gabrielle Fanelli.
Photo of Bella. Provided by Gabrielle Fanelli.

Gabrielle Fanelli, a sophomore biological and health science major, is an owner of a cat named Lilly and a dog named Bella.

Pet adoptions have soared since the world went into lockdown making one in three people adopting a new pet.

Fanelli is considering being a part of this statistic while thinking about taking home a new husky for herself and family to love. She believes adoption at this time would be beneficial for not only her and her family, but also the puppy itself.

“Having a pet can brighten a mood and be there when you need them,” Fanelli said. She personally loves when they keep her company while doing work or just watching TV.

Fanelli said that having a pet definitely has a positive impact on someone’s mental health. “From personal experience, I’ve seen depressive emotions become positive after adopting a new dog,” she said. “Pets bring joy and love into a family.”

Fanelli believes if her quarantine experience were without pets running around the house, she would have been very bored. She said having her pets there to spend time with helped her keep a positive outlook on what was going on in the world.

“They might not be able to talk, but their presence was enough to keep me company during this pandemic,” Fanelli said.

Malik Bailey, a sophomore psychology major and dog owner, said that his relationship with his pet has drastically improved during the pandemic, and has left him better as a whole when it comes to his mental health and well-being.

Photo of Sony. Photo provided by Malik Bailey.

Bailey has a lab named Sony. He believes pets can leave anyone with better mental health because they make others happy and just want to have fun and play.

“My dog gives me something to do when I am stuck in the house and wishing I was outside enjoying life,” Bailey said.

He said the best pet to have a relationship with during the pandemic is a dog because of their ability to comfort humans. Bailey believes his pandemic experience would have been completely different without Sony by his side.

Sophia Gerner

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