Combating Social Isolation One Pet at a Time


Photo Courtesy of Sophie Perry.

With the number of unknowns out there surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be challenging to not get caught up in the panic. One way to stay grounded may not have even crossed the minds of those struggling. Across the United States, animal shelters have had to close for safety measures, and now more than ever, they are in need of foster families. Animals, who are especially used to being surrounded by activity, may seriously be affected by remaining in their kennels for days. By fostering, people are both saving the lives of these animals, while also benefiting from the love these animals bring. 


“Animals are not just a tool, but they are companions to us and because of that, the benefit that we get is unconditional love,” Gina Breadon, Community Outreach Coordinator of Saint Louis County Adoption Center, said.  


Animals have been shown to have a very soothing and therapeutic effect on humans, which is much-needed during this stressful time. Animals can provide both essential physical and mental relaxation. 


“Even just sitting down with, let’s say, a kitten or cat in your lap, and just the act of petting them for a few minutes, immediately lowers your blood pressure,” Breadon said. “It also puts out endorphins, and the other thing that is proven is that it puts out endorphins in the animals, too, so it’s a mutually beneficial thing.”


Many people may not feel ready to commit to getting a pet permanently, so this can be a good opportunity for these individuals to get an idea of what it is like. 


“It is critically important right now that we find as many people as we can that will help these shelters by fostering, even if they can only foster one pet, a cat or a dog, even if it’s for a short period of time or if it’s for a few months until we pull out,” Breadon said. 


Those looking to foster should contact their local animal shelter. Saint Louis County Adoption Center is currently working towards a foster program, but are presently working with the rescues to find foster homes. Throughout the span of a couple of months, but more heavily in the last few weeks, the Saint Louis County Adoption Center has gone from over 300 animals to 85 in their program. 


Whether people are struggling with mental health or they just want to help in some form, taking in animals is a good way to remain healthy during this challenging time. With the majority of people home now is the perfect time to do this, if able. However, for those who are unable to foster animals, donations can also be made to help local animal shelters.