Lockdown has witnessed a surge in pets being adopted across the UK. It has given the opportunity for people who have wanted a pet, to take the ‘plunge’ and go for it. We have also seen the words ‘zoom call’ become part of our everyday lives, whether it is with friends or for business.
What makes life easier is having your dog and cat by your side during those calls, whether they are sitting on your lap, on your desk or on their beds next to you. It brings comfort to you, especially when the meetings are back to back during the day. Others do not mind if they see a ‘furry face’ in the picture. It is no longer a case of being ‘unprofessional’ if your dog or cat or child is seen or heard in the background. Lockdown has made people generally more relaxed during working hours.
Britain’s pets have become so important for people as they work from home. They boost morale, motivate one and research has found that having a pet, particularly a cat or dog, reduces stress. There is also evidence that stroking a pet, from a cat or dog, to a guinea pig, hamster or a lizard, can lower your heart rate.
Pet owners make fewer visits to the doctor and that having a pet helped people who have had heart attacks or strokes. People sleep more soundly with cats and dogs, unless like some, they take up most of the bed.
There has also been a negative impact from the surge of people adopting pets. Whilst people are at home and don’t have the stress of everyday life and commuting to work, having a rescue cat or dog or adopting a kitten or puppy is great; however some of these same people have returned their pets to the likes of Battersea Cats and Dogs Home.
Pets have become accessories to some people, just like a “designer handbag”. The difference is pets are for life. They don’t go in and out of fashion. Over the past seven years, the number of chihuahuas in RSPCA rescue centres has risen by 700%; dachshunds are up 600% and pomeranians up 440%. You need only look at @dogsofinstagram for a few moments to see how often certain dog breeds are viewed as lifestyle accessories rather than living, breathing animals with greater needs than colour-coordinated doggy pop-socks and collar.
The difficulty in finding pet friendly rentals in the UK, particularly in cities with a lot on non-pets clauses in blocks, has led to people moving away from the larger dogs, to the smaller breeds such as the French Bulldog. This is partly to appease landlords and help let to them with their pets. Finding a pet friendly rental in a City in London, should not influence your choice of dog. Labradors are a popular breed and some pet owners, like to stick to the breeds they grew up. However, only 10% of London landlords are pet-friendly and nearly half the UK population has a pet. When you look at the numbers, the stats are not in favour of pet owning tenants. This is something that has to change and is slowly doing so, but not at the pace of the rest of London where more and more Cafes and stores are opening their doors to dogs. For more visit www.thedogvine.com.
As part of a new campaign celebrating rescue pets, a poll by leading animal charity Battersea Dogs and Cats Home has shown how Britons have relied on their pets while working from home. 1 in 10 have even moaned about a colleague to their furry friend. Almost four in 10 of the 2,000 cat and dog owners surveyed said that having a pet with them during lockdown had helped them maintain a regular routine.
Dogs provide us with so much and ask very little back, just a walk, some food and a cuddle. Whether you leave your home for 2 minutes or 2 hours, there is a friendly face welcoming you home and happy to see you.
Russell Hunt is Founder of Pets Lets, www.petslets.com, a 100% pet friendly London property portal with a relocation service and a hub of information about dogs in London. Pets Lets is a community where people with pets matter.