By Bev Thompson ~
The recent COVID-19 pandemic has many people thinking ahead, taking out life insurance policies, reassessing wills and trusts, and considering caregiver options for their children and pets. During Katrina, Storm Sandy, and 9-11 we learned to prepare quickly. We prepared our To Go Bags for our families and our pets. Unfortunately, nothing has challenged us more than preparing for the Covid-19, Pandemic.
What Preparations Do the Experts Advise for Our 4-Legged Family Members?
“We encourage all pet owners to identify caretakers who can help with pet care if they can no longer meet their responsibilities,” says Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the ASPCA, “This also helps plan ahead to reduce potential strain on shelters, since, sadly, if anyone must surrender their pets, shelters will be even more overwhelmed.” Pets should always be part of family emergency preparedness plans, Bershadker notes.
How To Prepare For Temporary Caregivers For Our Pets
- Find two responsible friends or relatives who will serve as temporary caregivers.
- Provide your caregivers with keys to your home for feeding (location of food, leash, & collar) and care instructions and any specific personality and behavior traits.
- Give your caregivers the name of your veterinarian and information about the temporary person or persons who will take your pet if needed.
- Make a list of all contacts and their phone numbers to share with all temporary caregivers should they need to contact each other.
- Carry a wallet “alert card!”
What if You Don’t Have A Pet? Consider Adopting or Fostering a Pet During The Pandemic
Americans are applying online through phone interviews to foster and permanently adopt – picking up their new pet curbside. Most of the shelters are by appointment only and some organizations with pets up for fostering or adoption can be seen via Zoom.
Why Now? Many adopters who did not have pets previously are now enjoying the benefits of having a new fur friend in a number of ways:
- Alleviates anxieties while trapped at home during the corona lockdown and while sheltering in place.
- Ensures going outside for exercise, the One activity still allowable. Walking your dog.
- Gives people a way of ‘giving back’ during this crisis. Now that many people are working from home, becoming permanent for some, allows more time to responsibly take care of and spend quality time with a pet.
Pets Are Our Emotional Responders – With Health Benefits
Those of us with pets know what research says about the health benefits of pets; reduced blood pressure, increased cardiovascular health, less anxiety and depression, and encouraged outdoor exercise to maintain better health.
“You can take them for a walk, get fresh air, get vitamin D – there are wonderful health benefits from having a pet, and they can help you cope with the stress of this virus, says Julie Kuenstle, vice president of communications for the Houston SPCA. Houston is one of the countries largest animal shelters and is working on clearing shelters by increasing temporary pet fostering.
“Animals provide invaluable comfort and companionship, especially during times of crisis,” states Matt Bershadker. Anyone who is thinking about adopting or fostering a pet from a local shelter, “should reach out to that shelter immediately,” Bershadker says.
COVID-19 Program Updates and Resources: