Pets appear to be a cute, fuzzy growth area for the pandemic.
Peanut was his name. I was drawn to her by the fact that she resembled the Jack Russell terrier from the TV show Frasier (the sole likeable member of the cast) and perhaps by some deep loneliness. Because the pandemic seemed to nudge so many people into having pets, perhaps I might adopt this huge rat?
During the epidemic, many people in the United States acquired a dog. Since the beginning of the epidemic, about 9 million dogs have been acquired by families (equal to the population of New York City), increasing the total number of dogs in the US to 108 million (approximately one dog for every three humans). Cats grew in number as well, adding 5 million in just a few years to bring the total number of cats in the United States to 79 million.
It's difficult to estimate how many of these creatures went to new owners. In fact, because counting animals is much less precise than counting humans, all of these figures are estimations. However, other organizations are interested in obtaining this information, including veterinary organizations and pet food manufacturers, because pet ownership has significant implications for household spending and the US economy in general. The American Pet Products Association provided the figures I'm using here.
Many of these animals were given to first-time owners who weren't necessarily well-equipped to care for them, according to animal rights organizations. People who saved their jobs may have to return to work and leave their pets behind. Those who had lost their employment (as many individuals in the United States have) may not be able to buy their new pets. Some sources, such as this study published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science, have challenged these figures and showed a modest decrease in pet ownership, which has been related to pet owners' financial insecurity.
The study's authors were particularly interested in pet retention - that is, how many of the households who received new pets during the epidemic maintained them? However, it turns out that the majority of the dogs and cats who were adopted during the pandemic are still alive and well. National databases of animal shelters, reassuringly, did not show a significant increase in animals being "surrendered." Overall, 90% of the dogs and 85% of the cats that were adopted during Covid are still living happily in their new homes.
I was afraid of becoming one of the 10%, so I never took Peanut home from the shelter after meeting her last year. But if I had, I'm very sure I would have given her a different name than Bella or Max, because those are the canine equivalents of calling a child John Smith.
As the year 2022 begins, we'd want you to consider making a new year's resolution. We'd like to encourage you to join the more than 1.5 million people in 180 countries who have pledged financial support to keep us open to everyone while being fiercely independent.