Furry friends for a frenzied year


By Sophia Herrera 
Our Lady of Mercy Academy

One brave kitten shyly scopes out a potential forever family. (Photo by Oona Montandon)

During the lonesome isolation of quarantine, many people welcomed new pets to fill their quiet homes. But as restrictions are lifted and many return to offices, some of those owners are finding the commitment and responsibility of having a “pandemic pet” too much to handle.

A May survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of people who acquired pets over the pandemic found that 13 percent are considering rehoming their animals. The majority of people who considered this suffered financial trouble and saw no other option other than to give up their pet, according to the survey.

Megan Hanken, a veterinarian at Los Gatos Dog & Cat Hospital in Los Gatos, Calif., said her practice experienced a major increase in clients over quarantine —  so vast that it had to stop accepting new patients for a brief period.

Hanken said she was glad so many animals found homes, but she worried that owners had not considered all the possibilities of having pets, especially dogs. 

“I don’t think a lot of people anticipated the difficulty of properly socializing and training your puppy,” she said. The window in which a puppy can be socialized is short, therefore the owner must be proactive about behavioral training. 

Hanken is also concerned that pets adopted over the pandemic would develop separation anxiety. “People are just starting to leave the house and realize that there may be an issue with leaving their pet at home,” she said. 

Hanken’s pet hospital noticed that most of the pets were more afraid than usual to be at the vet when they were away from their owners. For some owners, obstacles like these were too difficult to conquer.

A few of Hanken’s clients encountered especially hard times during quarantine or found that the difficulty of a pet was too much, resulting in a slight increase in pet surrenders. 

“We haven’t had a lot of people who had been in so much hardship that they had to give them up,” Hanken said. 

“I think everyone needs to do what is right for themselves,” said Jordana Sobey, an attorney, and owner of a pet adopted over quarantine. 

Prior to the pandemic, Sobey, 41, adopted and subsequently gave up a pet. She understood the responsibilities that came with a pet, so she was ready to welcome one into the family. Since she had made long-term considerations and preparations, Sobey has happily lived with her dog, Tiki, since quarantine. But those without this knowledge may not have had such a happy ending.

“What do you say to someone who makes a commitment and can no longer take on that responsibility? It’s not the nicest thing in the world, but everybody has to do what’s right for themselves, their families and hopefully the pet as well.”