Melbourne based animal behaviourist Laura Vissaritis helps people understand their animals. After working for many years at a zoo with a range of animals, Vissaritis now helps domestic pet owners understand their pet’s behaviours. She has recently been involved with helping people prepare themselves and their pets for life after COVID-19.
In the past couple of decades, but even more in 2020, the importance of pets has been realised, “The pet industry has become crucial to humans and is a major part of our lives”.
Statistics show animal shelters have had record high adoption rates and even been completely cleared out and much less animals coming into the shelter during the duration of COVID-19.
“Pets are particularly popular with younger generations who are choosing not to have children as well as middle aged people who experience ‘empty nest syndrome’ as their children leave home”.
“The companionship given by pets, especially dogs, is a life saver. This is why so many shelters have become smaller during the pandemic, as restrictions have resulted in a lot of people home alone. Sometimes the only time people speak out loud all day is to their pets”.
People around the world have built much closer bonds with their pets during this time, as pets have given their owners extra love and support. “Many people have said that without their pet, they don’t know how they would have gotten through this tough time”, Vissaritis explained. “Pets have also become accustomed to having their owners around more, and have shown better behaviour as a result.”
Vissaritis has three dogs, two goats and a cat (that all get on surprisingly well!) and like every other pet owner, is starting to think about the return to normality as COVID-19 restrictions lessen.
FOGO or fear of going without pets, is a phenomenon that occurs as people get to spend increased time with their pets (like during COVID-19) and then have to go back to normal life and leave their pets home alone.
Open Farm, a premium pet food company that works to help people understand their pets better, has observed that people have recently become anxious about leaving their pets when face to face work resumes after COVID-19.
So, how do pet owners prepare themselves and their pets for normality? Vissaritis has 5 tips:
Vissaritis reminds, “We can learn from our pets, they live in the moment and are optimistic, this is the key to happiness”.
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