The world rediscovered quite a few new interests while staying home during the pandemic. Some found joy in the kitchen, some raised plants, others made time and space for a kitten or a puppy.
Many friends and colleagues have turned barren balconies into mini-gardens, either reviving wilted plants or investing in new blooms, and at least six people I know have adopted or fostered a “pandemic puppy” or two in the past seven months. In my own case, an indie puppy that would follow me on morning walks on the empty streets came all the way up the stairs one day in April and hasn’t left since.
In the initial weeks of the lockdown in India, reports of pets being abandoned soared, prompted by rumours of animals transmitting the virus, and shelters struggled to care for animals. Since then, a lot has changed. More people are feeding stray animals on the street, others are adopting pups and kittens from their neighbourhoods or local shelters.
Worldwide, adoption and sales of animals have been soaring. In New York, shelters have reported that about 25% of the people who agreed to take in foster dogs temporarily at the start of the pandemic had adopted them permanently by late June. Usually, that foster-turned-adopter figure is 10%, reports The Washington Post. We don’t have such estimates in India, but rescue organisations have reported an increase in people fostering and then adopting stray animals—and that was the motivation for our cover story this week.
Doctors and experts have been warning of a possible mental health crisis as reduced social interaction, economic uncertainty and anxiety about contracting the virus combine to create psychological distress. For many, caring for and playing with pets or raising plants have been an outlet. There is, of course, the worry about what will happen when we return to school and work—but going by the bonds people have formed with their kittens and puppies and plants, there’s reason to hope they will continue to live happily ever after.
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