The pandemic may have left humans feeling the effects of social isolation, but for pets, quarantine has been a walk in the park.
There’s concern about how pets will react as their humans head back to the office or out to social gatherings. It's especially an issue for puppies adopted during the pandemic who haven’t spent much time alone.
The Connecticut Humane Society saw adoptions skyrocket during the coronavirus crisis.
“We had three families waiting for every one pet,” said James Bias, executive director for the Connecticut Humane Society.
Farana Karlowicz is one of the people who found a new forever friend. She adopted a black Labrador named Lupa.
“The past year I’ve been (a nurse) on the COVID floor and it’s been crazy, but Lupa has been there for us. Coming home to her has been a big treat,” Karlowicz said.
As pandemic regulations loosen up, you may be ready to unleash and get back out there. Owners should be aware that as pandemic regulations loosen up and routines change, pets will need time to adjust to a new lifestyle.
“We are bracing ourselves that as people turn back to travel or a different work style that there might be opportunities for people to want to surrender a pet,” Bias said.
Manchester Animal Control Officer Elease McConnell shares similar post-pandemic concerns.
“Is that going to happen in the future, where we’re going to end up finding more dogs that are roaming? And we’re like hey who’s the owner? We cross our fingers and toes and hope not,” she said.
McConnell, who is president of Connecticut’s Municipal Animal Control Officer Association, reminds families to keep their pets in mind as they start thinking about their return to normal.
“I get it that they are furry and they have four legs, but they still have to be trained and regimented,” she said.
McConnell recommends signing up for training classes as a family.
“Most parents, they teach their children please and thank you. Teaching your dog a routine and regular set of rules is really key,” she said.
While the dog park might seem like the perfect place to take your pup for exercise and socialization, experts say not all dogs are a good fit.
Becca Meyer, a behavior coordinator with the Connecticut Humane Society, says it’s important to learn your dog’s limits and integrate them slowly. She recommends trying your dog in a small playgroup to see how they interact with the other dogs.
“I think it’s very important to choose people with similar dog values to socialize your dogs with,” Karlowicz said.
Karlowicz also said she got lucky with Lupa.
“She’s somewhat trained, she’s a really good dog.”
McConnell tells pet parents to expect tough phases and frustrations as they return to the office.
“Separation anxiety is a real thing that happens with dogs and that should be addressed,” she said.
“We can only hope that people are going to really recognize the emotional life preserver have been during the pandemic and they’ll want to hang on to these pets on into their senior years,” Bias said.
Experts urge owners to keep up with vet care including routine vaccines and spaying and neutering. Make sure to check with your town about licensing requirements and leash laws.