By Maddie Qualls, staff writer
The hardships of quarantine seem less terrible when you have a pet by your side. As the pandemic drones on, pet-owning Maria Carrillo High School students find relief in their companions, old and new.
A survey administered to 316 MCHS students revealed that over 77 percent of survey respondents owned pets prior to the pandemic; 53 percent of the 316 respondents had either one or two. Every pet-owning respondent reported having a positive experience with their pets in quarantine, except for one who claims that their cat dislikes them. The majority affirmed that their pets provide relief from solitude and bring happiness into their lives. Sophomore Mia Garcia said, “Having a pet has definitely made it easier to cope with staying at home because spending time with your pets takes your mind off of other things going on.”
Additionally, the survey reports that nearly 24 percent of responding students got pets during quarantine. The most popular additions to respondents’ families are dogs with almost 18 percent of respondents having gotten them since the start of the pandemic, followed by cats, who garnered the love of over four percent of respondents during quarantine. However, some students have more uncommon pets as well, such as isopods.
One of the most prevalent reasons for getting pets during quarantine was to combat boredom and loneliness. Although pet ownership adds more responsibilities to life, most respondents said that it is worth the effort. “Getting a puppy was a lot of new responsibility, but she makes up for it every day,” said MCHS freshman Tyler Hickerson.
According to some respondents, staying at home has been beneficial for training and getting to know their new companions. Freshman Leanna Baltonado said, “It’s been good because I’ve gotten to bond a lot more with my newer dog and have been able to train him more.” Of new pets, an equal amount were adopted as bought; some were found or gotten as gifts, too.
One of the Dogwood Animal Rescue Project founders, Hannah Houston, told The Prensa that the rescue’s adoptions more than doubled in this past year compared to the year prior. She thinks this is because spending more time at home allowed people to take on puppies and kittens as well as adjust adult animals to their homes. She also said, “this year hasn’t been just about saving the animals; this year has been about helping people too… I really feel our adoptions were helping support the mental status and the well-being of the humans as much as the animals.”
No matter when students got their pets, many respondents describe them as members of their families. Junior Emily Richter said, “I took [my pill bug] along when we evacuated for the Glass Fire. He sat at the table with our family on Thanksgiving and had his own stocking at Christmas.” These pets can actually bring families together during the pandemic too. Talking about her cat, sophomore Amani Davis mentioned that “she’s brought the family closer together because we all spend time in the living room to play with and pet Cleo instead of being in our own separate rooms.” Some students proved that you don’t even have to formally own an animal for them to become family.
“The neighbor’s dog sneaks over to come see me every now and then. He’s a part of the family now,” said freshman respondent Lucy Benedict.
As Richter said, “[Pets’] companionship makes the good days better and the bad days more bearable.”