COVID-19: Companion Animals Help People Cope During Government-Imposed Social Isolation

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This research explores the impact of government-imposed social isolation orders on homes with companion animals. Data were collected April through May 2020, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey of 234 Americans observing social isolation orders included demographic questions; questions about relationships to other persons and companion animals within the home; and Likert-scale questions designed to probe the complexities of these relationships and their influences on perceived stress and isolation. We hypothesized that the presence of companion animals helps to mitigate stressors related to observing social isolation orders, with those living alone experiencing more benefit and homes with children experiencing less. The results suggest that the presence of companion animals alleviates stress and isolation by providing attachment figures and activities on which to focus one’s energy. These results support that companion animals are increasingly viewed as members of one’s family and provide social support during stressful life events.