SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) – According to a recent survey by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 1 in 5 American households added a new cat or dog to their families during the pandemic.
During the lockdown, our pets provided a lot of comfort and joy in the stressful time. But now experts and households alike are wondering how our furry friends will fare when the world slowly opens up again.
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Many are like Rob Woodcock and Sarah Sharifi. They adopted Heinz when he was a puppy.
“Neither of us left home to work. So we had the time, “remarked Rob.
Now is the time to sit back and analyze the situation. The goal: to develop a strategy for how Heinz and other pandemic pets get along when their owners leave for a vacation get-together or venture back into the office in the New Year.
“He’s very well trained here, but he’s definitely prone to distractions,” remarked Rob.
Before you get up and leave Fido or Fluffy and think it’s going to be easy, chew on it. Animal shelters, dog day care centers, pet sitters and dog walkers are back in business and in high demand.
“300 new dogs this year alone. It has really grown since May, ”said Victoria Robinson.
Robinson is the owner of the High Tail Dog Hotel in San Francisco. The High Tail offers both day care and overnight service.
Since the introduction of COVID vaccines and the easing of restrictions, the high tail has seen a dramatic increase in new customers.
KPIX 5 reviewed the situation with some random polls at Bay Area facilities and found that dog day care centers are back in fashion. That said, if you’re leaving town for the holidays or want to set up a daycare center for the New Year, cheer up.
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“If you haven’t already booked with a local pet sitter or boarding house, you’re probably out of luck,” said Robinson.
Dog sitters are also getting harder and harder to find.
“The pet industry is suffering from the same pressures that many other industries face from labor shortages,” noted SF SPCA Director Dr. Jennifer Scarlett.
Dr. Scarlett said she advises pet owners to get help beforehand. But equally critically, she urged, pet parents must ensure that their pets are prepared
“It’s about routine and positive rewards. You want to get your dog used to getting to know new people and other dogs so that they can feel more comfortable in the guesthouse, ”said Dr. Scarlett.
She recommended that owners immediately start new routines with their pets.
If you’re expected to be at work by 9 a.m. and leave by 7 a.m., go out at 7 a.m. and leave your dog alone for a few minutes, go around the corner and get some coffee and back “, offered Dr. Scarlett on.
As for Heinz, Rob and Sarah are motivated to help him manage their periodic absences. They are planning a two week honeymoon this summer and want him to be ready. But Heinz is not the only one who suffers from a small “separation anxiety”.
“We feel so bad when we leave him, you know, we go and he’ll stand by the window and he’ll put his paws on the window and he’ll watch us go and it’ll break your heart”, said Sarah.
The couple are planning a strategy for the New Year that will be a hybrid model: working from home for a few days, using dog walkers, and sometimes a daycare.
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One more tip: make sure your dog has their vaccinations. Canine flu is spreading very quickly in Southern California, and experts told KPIX 5 that it is only a matter of time before it reaches the Bay Area.