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An animal doesn't stop being a big responsibility after quarantine is over.

Humans are sociable beings who rely on interaction. One article from Forbes states that humans are the most comfortable in life when they feel connected. With millions of Americans now confined within the walls of their homes, many people are feeling the mental repercussions, like boredom and stress, of being boxed in with little outside contact. 

One way that some have been coping with the anxiety and loneliness is by purchasing a companion at a pet store or shelter. The reality is, spontaneously buying an animal with the justification of having extra time on your hands probably isn’t a good idea. 

Animals are known to have positive psychological effects on humans. Mainly, being around them can help alleviate stress and improve overall mental health, according to the website Mental Health of America. Perhaps this is why humans have a natural tendency to seek the companionship of animals, with dogs specifically being dubbed “man’s best friend.”  

Yet, animals typically need extensive care, require an abundance of time and consume a significant amount of resources and money. According to Veterinary Practice News, among the top reasons survey-takers cited for not wanting a pet were issues of time and resources, such as cleaning up after the animal, travel needs and general costs. However, during a nationwide quarantine where millions are bored and alone, these realistic concerns seem to be overpowered by the desire for companionship. 

The Daily Beast cites a national outpouring of pet adoptions since lockdown began. Numerous online posts have gone viral about people spontaneously adopting animals during the quarantine. On the app TikTok, searching the hashtag “quarantinepet” shows many users and their brand-new animals. The Los Angeles Times even cites shortages of animals in shelters around the nation. While this may sound like a good thing, there are some negative potential consequences that follow.

Although it may likely be numerous months before life returns to “normal,” life will resume, nonetheless. People will begin working again, and students will return to school. PBS even cites an anticipated economic boom post-pandemic, implying businesses, and therefore employees, will probably be even busier than usual. Just because Americans suddenly have the time to care for a fuzzy friend doesn’t mean they will in six months’ time. In fact, the Daily Beast states that some shelters are becoming increasingly concerned about the potential of a massive surge of returned pets once the pandemic subsides.  

One article from the Guardian, published March 26, suggests that the current pandemic situation is actually the perfect time to adopt an animal. It even cites a quote from a new pet-owner, saying, “You’re at home all day, which means you can provide endless hours of enrichment and love to a new animal.” Certainly, if someone knows for sure they’ll still have ample time to care for an animal after the pandemic is over, then now would be the time to adopt. Yet, the danger of this article is that it suggests to its audience that a few months of free time is what qualifies someone for a commitment to another being that could potentially last a decade or longer.  

Having a pet is a time-consuming and expensive obligation that some seem to be overlooking for the benefit of companionship. While it’s understandable that some may simply want to help out animals during this time, there are other ways to do so. 

According to the Daily Beast, the director of Animal Haven Shelter in New York City said that monetary donations are what shelters currently need to continue caring for animals during the pandemic and are the preferable way the community can give back while in quarantine. 

Josie Haneklau is a sophomore political science and psychology major. Contact Josie at hanekljr@dukes.jmu.edu.