Pets helping or hindering?

Brett Nweeia, Videographer

During these times, there is not much to do but stay inside or go shopping for essential living supplies. But there’s something that could help ease the boredom of staying home all the time: pets. 

According to the Health For Animals Global Animal Medicines Association, pets “provide us with companionship but also with emotional support, reduce our stress levels, sense of loneliness and help us to increase our social activities and add to a child’s self-esteem and positive emotional development.”

Dr. Carlene Taylor of the Animal Assisted Therapy program at the University of North Florida knows a thing or two about how pets act and how they can be a beneficial factor to a family or a liability. I asked her to discuss the benefits of having a pet to cope with social isolation in this unique time.

The Nemours Children’s Specialty Clinic is creating videos with the members of the Animal Assisted Dog & Pony Therapy Program to help send positive messages to kids of ALL ages relative to COVID-19.

Dr.Carlene Taylor suggests folks to check out to understand the purpose of the effects pets leave on the kids all ages in a positive light. Here is the link to see more about it.

Do you believe pets hinder or help ease the emotional effects people are getting by staying inside thinking about the virus?

“Well, like so many things with a pet themself is not going to be the answer and the be-all and end-all. However, in general, we could expect that people that have pets would feel some relief emotionally from being inside with the virus. and from being isolated. There’s always a persistent feeling of not being alone. So we’re disconnected from our friends and disconnected from our community in so many ways. This COVID-19 isolation is causing people to feel more claustrophobic more alone and pets can certainly ease that sense of feeling disconnected and in feeling estranged from their support systems.”

Why do you think so many people build an emotional bond with their pets?

“A woman, the name of Temple Grandin. She’s a professor at Colorado State University and pretty well known in the private and public circles now. Dr. Grandin revealed some with her research that there are six primary emotional systems that humans and animals share particularly in mammals. So all humans and all mammals share six primary emotional systems that make us function, although somewhat differently based on species, but there’s some things that we have in common. We all feel the sense of anger and rage, we all feel the sense of love and caring, we all feel a sense of grief and loss In humans and animals share the need for play. We share the need for seeking, which is that looking for the next thing to be involved in.”

How can pets help?

“Is a benefit because it gives you a reason to keep going or reason to be motivated a reason to

press through and it gives you a company along the way. But it also increases the risk

because if you’re not successful, or if there’s a challenge then not only are you at a loss but your animal friend Is it a loss too and that can create increased stress.”

How can pets hinder? 

“You have increased responsibility and there’s increased risk. So you do have to get out because you’ve got to get your pet out and take a walk and you do have to worry about them and to try to take care of them.”

A UNF Student Ashling Glocke who is a pet owner herself says, “Having a pet is truly like having a child. You have to take care of them and raise them. Not only is it beneficial to us, since we have a playmate or a walking partner, but it’s so beneficial for our pets. Creating connections helps your pet trust you and maintain a happy relationship.”

For More Information

For anyone who needs assistance to talk emotionally, they can go to UNF’s OspreyPERCH: Prevention, Early Intervention & Resiliency through Counseling & Holistic Health provider team. They are available to everyone no matter their location geographically. If you’re struggling emotionally and need someone to talk and communicate with, you can talk to OspreyPERCH. Their Counseling interns are available via tele-mental Health secure video sessions. This is the service that has brought animals on UNF’s campus for health and wellness activities. 

Students can contact OspreyPERCH by emailing [email protected] or calling (904) 716-0602. 

For more information the website link here.


For more information or news tips, or if you see an error in this story or have any compliments or concerns, contact [email protected].