The furry side of the pandemic

By Jordan Dionne, Special to The Record

So many people have been affected by COVID-19 since the start of this very turbulent year, but has anyone stopped to think about our furry friends? Pets surely are important to think about and discuss when so many people are having to be displaced or unemployed due to the virus. While they must have definitely enjoyed our increased company with quarantine this past spring, how were we feeling about spending more time with them? What about those who felt the isolation of quarantine hit them like a ton of bricks?
The Eastern Townships Society for the Protection of Animals (SPA) definitely took notice of an increase in demand. While referring to animals as a commodity is less than desirable, Tamara Neely of the SPA, said that demand far surpassed the supply of potential furry friends.
Neely said that the challenge was, “hard but feasible,” with the increased demand meeting with logistical hardships such as keeping the website up to date with the current information as pets were making their way through the system. Nonetheless, during the summer alone, 400 animals found homes.
When asked if there were an increase in the number of abandonments during the pandemic, Neely said that there was no increase in the number of animals brought back to the shelter. This is due in large part, according to Neely, to the increased awareness and support provided by the SPA with regards to recognizing the commitment that adopting an animal is. In general, she added, there has been a significant decrease in the number of abandonments over the years.
While the pandemic and the spring quarantine was difficult for everyone, many people made place in their home to welcome new members.
Teala Sirois, a student from Sherbrooke, told The Record that she adopted not one but two cats this year.
“There was this real void that became apparent once isolation started; a measure of seeking affection and companionship in a time so riddled with anxiety,” she said. “I adopted Zahra and Joey around two weeks apart. Adopting Zahra had been a long time coming. My partner and I had wanted to adopt, but [COVID-19] made the need so much stronger. It wasn’t long after that we introduced Joey into the mix. Something about knowing that they’re there brought a lot of comfort. I’ve become relatively obsessed with my cats. I never thought it would happen, but being indoors 24/7 for months on end, you begin to appreciate so much more the little moments.”
With COVID-19 tightening its grip on regulations and with the Eastern Townships transitioning into an orange zone, Neely said that there will be further measures in place at SPA to ensure the safety of its employees and the public. Many services will be available over the phone and the SPA encourages everyone who is interested in adoption to verify their website and pages on social media, which are kept up to date, before coming. They can be reached at 819-821-4727 or via their website

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