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A pet is for life, not just for a pandemic

01/13/2021 06:00AM | 2430 views

By Joanna Gale

It feels like no new year has ever been so heartily welcomed as this one (or rather, no old year as readily ditched as the last) but, sadly, we set off into 2021 with headlines reporting that hundreds of pets acquired during the COVID pandemic are being handed in to rescues shelters or advertised for resale online.

I know many will agree with me that pets are fabulous. They can bring joy, laughter, companionship and physical activity. And whilst they’re doing all that they’ve also been shown to provide benefits to our mental and physical health.

They also eat, pee, poop, chew, lick and sometimes even bite. They have emotions and feelings and needs. They can get stressed, lonely, excited and frustrated. They require veterinary care – routine and emergency - and looking after them costs money, time and energy. It’s well worth it, most pet owners would agree, but choosing a pet and welcoming them into the home are not decisions to be taken lightly. Even an adult animal is entirely reliant on their human companions to meet their needs, and a puppy or kitten even more so. The right living environment, diet, fresh water, exercise, attention, companionship, training and health care are the most basic of requirements and none should be overlooked.

Though there will be those pointing out that these tragic headlines were predicted by many, it’s no comfort. The Benjamin Franklin quote “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail” sums up the situation perfectly. I believe the best way to help pets now and in the future is to help pet owners – and potential pet owners – access the information they need to prepare to succeed. To help them embark upon the wonderful journey with an understanding of the financial costs involved, to feel confident they have the support needed to keep going through the tough times, to know where and who to turn to for good advice and when to seek it. This will equip them to proudly bear the responsibility of pet ownership as the privilege it really is, and to reap the rewards of a strong pet-owner bond. Doing the right research and preparation means that pet owners are less likely to have unexpected expenses or issues managing their pets’ care. But if the preparation wasn’t up to scratch and somebody finds themselves struggling once they’ve acquired or adopted a pet, guiding them towards accessing resources such veterinary care or behavioural advice can be critical in keeping a pet and their human family together for the long term.

This pandemic is not over yet and whilst we know that many people are suffering various kinds of loss and hardship as a result, let us not look back and see that our loyal and loving pets suffered as a consequence. They are always there for us, and now - more than ever - they need us in return.


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Joanna Gale is Global Scientific Advocacy and Stakeholder Relations Manager at Mars Petcare

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