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Furry best friends make quarantine fun

SUN.| 03-14-21 | FEATURES

     As soon as students get in the car, to pick up their new furry best friend, their hearts are filled. Students are cheerful now that their lives aren't as lonely in the midst of this isolating pandemic. Coming home with their new companion brings more excitement and happiness because now there is something to look forward to.  

     The recent COVID-19 pandemic has led to many pets getting adopted, clearing out many of the adoptable pets in shelters and rescues. Many students at Rose have been adopting pets during this time for support. Staff members of the Animal Welfare are grateful that pets are getting adopted during this time, but hope new pet owners will be able to stay committed once the pandemic is over.

     “Around March of 2020 when stay-at-home orders began in our area, we initially had a lot of inquiries as we sent many of our animals into foster homes,” Administrative Assistant at Pitt County Animal Services Kelli Young said. “More people at home had the availability to foster, which helped our operations and animals immensely.”

     Residents of Greenville, especially students, haven’t been able to get much social interaction for almost a year, and have sought out

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Graphic by Ava Alger

animal shelters for interaction. With all of the online learning switches this year, junior Kemper Hudson has adopted two dogs and is very grateful to add two new additions to his household. 

     “Just being cooped up in the house, there is nothing to do so I’ve really wanted something that I could interact with and play with,” Hudson said. 

     Students are also growing their pet family by adopting a second pet. Senior Harris Gray Mattocks just recently adopted a new dog because her previous dog passed away in October. Princess, her dog of sixteen years, was very special to her family, so it has been hard for them. They wanted to adopt a new dog, so that they could try to make it normal again in their household. 

     “It keeps us more upbeat because we're so used to having two dogs around the house, and then since my dog passed away, it’s just been one dog, so having two has kept it a lot more like it used to be,” Mattocks said. 

     According to students, they are adopting these fuzzy companions for support because they have seen, having a pet can be a health benefit. Many people have found that something to occupy them has been beneficial because pets have been known to assist with many conditions, like stress, anxiety, and to improve relationships.

     “We chose the [dog] mainly for my brother [because] he has down syndrome, so it helps him to be more obedient when he sees the dog is obedient,” Worsley said.

     Many have turned to pet companionship to get themselves through this time. People have been working from home and students have been learning from home, so they see this as an opportunity to spend more time with and to train a new pet. Animal Welfare staff workers hope that adopters plan to stay dedicated to their new pet with the return to normalcy. 

     “I think the most important thing people need to think about is [how] their new animal will fit in their life when they are no longer working from home,” Shelter Director at the Humane Society of Eastern Carolina Shelby Dolly said. “Animals are a lifetime commitment and you need to account for that.”

     Animal Welfare staff members want it to be safe for their adoptable pets to be rescued by their new loving family. Shelters and rescues are implementing safety protocols for placing pets in new homes. At the local animal shelter, they require face masks and scheduled appointments to visit with the animals to make sure all protocols are followed. 

     “My dad... told us that he had to have on gloves and a mask and when he was getting the dog,” sophomore Keziah Worsley said. “He had to stay away from the [animal shelter workers], so she was handing him the dog from afar."

     Usually, shelters and rescues would have volunteers come and walk the pets and give them attention, but changes have had to be made. After all of the quarantining, Humane Society of Eastern Carolina (HSEC) is continuing their general volunteer programs, but Pitt County Animal Services is not. HSEC requires social distancing and masks, along with one volunteer per shift. 

     “We have a few emergency authorized volunteers who walk the dogs regularly, with our general volunteer programs being suspended,” Young said. “We still have many generous people who drop donations off outside the shelter.”

     Students are loving the new interaction with their new pets, but have had to resolve some difficulties. With all of the excitement with bringing home a new pet, students have had to figure out ways that will be the best interest for themselves and their pet. 

     “I sit in my bed doing schoolwork all day and some days I won’t walk them, [but] usually I will walk them around the neighborhood so [we can both] get exercise,” Hudson said. “I usually use my lunch period [to] take them out on a walk and I will take a snack.”

     Many students have said to be very excited that they have brought home their new best friend and are appreciative to have a support system. Animal Welfare staff members are beyond thankful for families opening their homes to the pets that are continuing to be adopted.

     If you would like to view pets that are available from the Pitt County Animal Services, you may click here The Humane Society of Eastern Carolina has available pets on their website as well, you may click here

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