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Community Voices: Pets CAN make it better

Martha Boden



City of St. Pete Flickr

Life is anything but normal these days. The term “social distancing” was introduced to our lives, and suddenly, nothing seems the same. 

Fear, anxiety and isolation can feel overwhelming as our community deals with Covid-19. But there is an antidote for those feelings, and it might be right under your feet (or in your lap). 

Our pets are more than companions. They bring “humanimality” – our word for the almost indescribable joy that a pet brings to your life.

Pets can help us process the onslaught of information and mixed feelings that a pandemic creates. Some of the ways that a pet can help: 

Comfort. Pets have a way of snuggling up to us at just the right time. They seem to know when we’ve had a rough day or are feeling overwhelmed. And sometimes the simple thought that they’re excited to see you is comfort enough. 

Routine. Pets’ routines bring a sense of certainty and normalcy. The 5 a.m. meow of a hungry cat, the 4 p.m. stare of a dog that wants his walk or the morning squawk of a parakeet is the same each day, Covid or not. 

Better health: Petting your cat or playing fetch with your dog is enough to help you forget about Covid-19 for a few minutes and for your body to release feel-good neurochemicals. Having a pet can help lower your blood pressure and boost your mood, according to the International Federation on Aging. And we all need a boost in our moods this week.  

Connection. Without the socialization of a workplace, people are looking for opportunities to connect, and neighborhood streets have been busier than ever. Walking your dog could help you better know your neighbors (from a safe distance of course). 

Purpose. Pets depend on us for food, shelter, safety and medical care. Our responsibility for a pet’s care gives purpose and meaning to our lives, even on our darkest days.

Humor. Our pets have a way of making us laugh. There’s a reason that funny cat and dog videos are among the top YouTube searches. From sweet faces to mischievous antics, they bring humor and levity in the midst of a serious situation. Plus, they bring the added bonus of photobombing our video calls when we’re working remotely. 

Don’t already have a pet at home? Choosing to foster or adopt a pet now also sends a positive ripple effect throughout the community. You’re giving a loving home to an animal in need, which helps create more space for other homeless animals looking for their forever homes, and supports the shelter in caring for even more animals. 

For those who can’t have a pet, consider fulfilling items on the shelter wish list or participating in our Virtual Pet Walk to raise money for animals in need. Online activities in support of the Pet Walk are going on now through Saturday, April 18. You can be entertained while you help your community from the comfort and safety of your living room.


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