DOUNWS-04-16-20 PETS

Douglas County Animal Services has several pets up for adoption. The shelter is also looking for funds to help care for the animals.

Recent studies have shown that animals, especially pets, are helping individuals cope with the extra stress during this coronavirus pandemic.

A survey by Rover.com shows that 40% of the respondents say they go to their pet for a break from current events. By contrast, 23% say they turn to their significant other for comfort.

On the flip side, several pet owners are finding it increasingly difficult to care for their pets because of the loss of income that has been caused by the pandemic.

“We are seeing where some people are scared that they will not be able to feed their pets,” Douglas County Animal Services Director Frances McMillan said. “The Humane Society is seeing an increase in requests for food.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the American Veterinary Medical Association have said there is no evidence yet that proves dogs and cats can contract COVID-19. However, precautions in caring for pets is still recommended.

Most experts say that pet owners should avoid dog parks at this time.

In addition, the animal shelter is seeing an increase in requests for owner surrenders, McMillan said.

Across the country rescues have risen, which sparks some concern.

“Right now shelters are overwhelmed that the number of adoptions [will go down], and what I’m afraid of is that more of these animals will be euthanized,” Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, said in an interview with Yahoo.com. “We’re asking people to save a life, to raise your hand, and to volunteer to take one or two of these animals home with you from your local shelter.”

McMillan said that Douglas County Animal Services is closed to the public because of the social distancing requirements, but the office can still arrange adoptions whether it be temporary or on a permanent basis.

“I think people are gravitating towards pets during this time of uncertainty because they can serve as a source of comfort,” Best Friends Animal Society CEO Julie Castle told CBS News. “The companionship of pets has been shown to reduce stress and lower anxiety, helping people to feel calmer and more secure when the news from the outside world is distressing.”

McMillan said the biggest need to have enough resources to feed animals that they take in.

“We want to do all we can to keep pets and owners together as much as we can,” McMillan said. “

McMillan said the shelter has served as a temporary home for a couple pets whose owners were being treated for the virus.

“We took a couple pets while family members got into town,” McMillan said. “We want people to plan for their pets in case they are hospitalized or get sick.”

Many experts point to research that has shown that adding an animal to your life makes people happier and even improves their health.

“If you don’t have a pet and are thinking about getting one, now is the perfect time to ‘try it on’ by fostering from your local shelter. Shelters and pet adoption facilities nationwide need people to foster pets on a temporary basis,” Castle said.

Douglas County Animal Services can be reached at 770-942-5961 and www.douglascountyanimalservices.com. The Douglas County Humane Society can be reached at 678-838-9123 and www.douglascountyhumanesociety.com.