How Pets Are Being Used to Fight Loneliness During Quarantine
Virtual meetings have been credited with helping families stay in touch amid the coronavirus pandemic, and now they’re being used to connect pets with people who are particularly vulnerable during this difficult time. The recently launched Pets Together initiative from Animal Farm Foundation schedules meetings between senior citizens and pets in order to ease feelings of loneliness and provide comfort.
“One of the many effects of the COVID-19 pandemic is social isolation and loneliness, which were already highly prevalent before the crisis,” said Stacey Coleman, executive director of Animal Farm Foundation, in a press release. “We designed Pets Together to adapt to these unprecedented circumstances by tapping into the power of pets to spread joy and bring people together.”
Pets available for virtual playdates include cats, dogs, horses, goats and even two cows named Muffin and Baby. They all belong to volunteers looking to bring joy to someone’s life. The meetings are held via Zoom and are arranged with long-term care facilities such as nursing homes and assisted living centers as well as hospital settings. Pets Together also connects animals with frontline healthcare workers too.
Pets Together is just one of several philanthropic efforts run by Animal Farm Foundation. The New York State-based nonprofit also trains shelter dogs as service animals that are provided at no cost to people in need. Through a partnership with the New York City Department of Corrections, Animal Farm Foundation has the PAWS of Purpose program, which pairs canines with inmates at Rikers Island Prison Complex. The dogs are then cared for while receiving basic training.
Meetings through Pets Together can be arranged through an online form at petstogether.org/book-your-get-together.