Durham residents explain how pets can be a lifeline during COVID-19 pandemic

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WATCH: During this pandemic, finding distractions can be difficult. Experts say caring for a pet can help fill part of the void that's left from the loss of social interaction. Aaron Streck has more. – Apr 1, 2020

During this pandemic, finding distractions can be difficult.

Experts say caring for a pet can help fill part of the void that’s left from the loss of social interaction.

Walking is part of Joy Cowley’s daily routine.

Instead of three or four walks a day, though, she and her dog Star go for a stroll around the neighborhood just once.

“We just find that it’s a lot more busy outside and we have to do the physical distancing,” said Cowley, an Oshawa resident.

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Like so many others, COVID-19 has changed the way she goes about her day, but one constant has been Star.

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“If I didn’t have an animal at home right now it would be so difficult to cope with what’s going on,” said Cowley.

At a time when most people are stuck in the house, Kathy Godfrey, another Oshawa resident, has relied heavily on her dog Ruby these past few weeks.

“I get my exercise, and when I get anxious or upset I got her to hug and she makes me feel better,” said Godfrey.

Psychologist Dr. Yukiko Konomi says pets are known to help lower blood pressure, ease stress and release happy neurotransmitters in the brain.

“It provides you the companionship — especially people in self isolation, quarantine, they really can’t even see anybody outside, they can’t even step outside. The animals will save your sanity,” said Konomi.

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“I think a lot of pets are probably enjoying their humans being at home,” said Danielle Johnson with the Humane Society of Durham Region.

The Humane Society of Durham Region has changed the way it operates.

Most of the animals have been moved out into foster homes but they’re still taking in pets and adopting them out.

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“People can submit an application online, and then we do an interview over the phone and we sort of do a curbside kind of pickup where we bring out the adoption paperwork, we explain it, our staff wears full PPE and then we bring out the animal,” said Johnson.

While the humane society is closed to the public, staff members are still caring for animals and right now they’re looking for donations to keep the shelves stocked with supplies.

“We thrive and survive on donations. We also operate a community pet food bank, so in this time of need right now — and a lot of people are going through a tough financial time — our food bank is very important so that people don’t feel the need to surrender their pets,” said Johnson.

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