University of Arkansas, Fayetteville Division of Agriculture
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Keywords

Covid-19, Pandemic, Animal Welfare, Companion Animal Industry, Pets

Abstract

Since the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2019, industries have been impacted globally. The companion animal care industry has not received much recognition in mainstream news, and as pandemic stressors increased individual facilities such as animal rescues, shelters, day care and boarding facilities felt the pressures associated with it. Little is known about the long-term effects of the pandemic on these facilities and how companion animal care may have changed. The purpose of this study was to explore the day-to-day impacts and long-term effects of COVID-19 on the companion animal industry in Northwest Arkansas from early 2020 to 2021. This study recruited participants from animal daycare and boarding facilities, shelters, and rescue organization facilities in Northwest Arkansas, and used a non-experimental survey research design. Twenty-eight facilities were contacted and six agreed to participate. Results showed an overall decrease in the number of clients and animals requiring services in 2020, but in 2021 these numbers increased. Open response analysis showed that non-profit organizations were not subject to the same mandated shutdowns as other businesses, which was an unexpected finding. The results also showed a brief increase in the number of pet surrenders and abandonments, followed by a notable increase in the number of pet adoptions and foster home applications at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and its related quarantine and restrictions.

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