5 August 2021

3 ways COVID-19 is affecting pets, owners and businesses

The number of pet owners has spiked throughout Canada since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. As many people have been out of work or are now working from home full time, it seemed like the perfect time to invest in a new pet companion. But now, as lockdown restrictions ease and people start heading back to work, there have been some positive and negative effects for pet owners, vets and pets.

1. Pet surrender requests rising

A growing number of pet rescue services across Ontario have reported an alarming amount of pet surrender requests . One northern Ontario pet rescue group has gotten so many surrender requests, they’ve had to start turning down many unwanted dogs.

These are some very unsettling cases of buyer’s remorse for many who brought home new pets during the pandemic. As people return to work, they’re discovering that they may no longer have the time in the day or effort that a new pet requires. Some have even posted listings online to sell their recently purchased pet companions.

This is a sad turn of events, because in the end, it is the pets who wind up suffering the most.

2. Pet paws-itive work environment

For many pet owners who have spent the last year and a half working from home, leaving their pets to go back to work just isn’t an option for them. One woman in British Columbia chose to switch jobs in order to prioritize her dog and continue working from home.

Other pet owners have shown similar sentiments about returning to work and leaving their pets at home. Of 400 dog owners surveyed by the pet-product company Honest Paws, 67% said they would consider looking for a different job if their company no longer offered remote work; 78% said they would stay if they could bring their pets to work.

It seems that pet-friendly workplaces aren’t completely out of the question. A survey of 500 C-suite executives , revealed that at least 59% were implementing new pet-friendly policies at work. Major companies such as Amazon, Google and Ben & Jerry’s are among the companies supporting this change.

3. Pet care waitlists

Since the number of pet owners has grown significantly during the pandemic, veterinary care service providers are currently experiencing a huge backlog. Clinics are overrun with appointments for owners who picked up a pandemic pet, who now need routine vaccinations, and that has affected those with older animals who also need an appointment.

Clinics say that COVID-19 protocols that are still in effect have a lot to do with creating the backlog. Distancing measures that keep pet owners from entering clinics and pet capacity restrictions are making appointments take twice as long as normal. Many pet owners are having to wait a few days to get an appointment or having to take their pets to clinic locations that are a few hours away.

Barking up the right tree

The sudden surge in pet ownership that came about during the pandemic has created some troubling issues, but it has also pushed forward some positive changes. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we should prioritize the things that matter the most and embrace the fact, that we are all in this together. That includes people, pets, vets and businesses.

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