Feature: Pet adoptions on rise in Turkey amid COVID-19 pandemic

  • World
  • Wednesday, 16 Dec 2020

ISTANBUL, Dec. 16 (Xinhua) -- Animal adoptions have surged amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as more people are turning to pets as a source of companionship, some Turkish animal lovers and veterinarians said.

"We witnessed an increase in adoptions since this summer, especially when the first lockdown restrictions were lifted at the beginning of June, as people felt uncomfortable about loneliness in general," Alper Ustun, a veterinarian and owner of a small private clinic in the capital Ankara, told Xinhua.

"With the help of social media and animal lovers, we managed to find permanent homes for many kittens and puppies in the past months," he said.

"In one case, we had a married couple who came to adopt a kitten, but the gentleman was not very keen on the idea of having one at home. They returned a few weeks later, saying that the man is very happy as the cat does not leave his sight, snuggling every time on his lap," the veterinary smilingly said.

Ustun also indicated that at the beginning of the outbreak, people were fearful about the risks of infections through pets. But as studies showed that this occurrence is significantly rare, they turned more toward adoptions.

"I think that with a pet at home, people feel more at ease with social isolation. Interactions with animals may help with depression and anxiety that has been clinically proven," the veterinarian added.

While animal adoptions have increased, animal activists have also warned that once this pandemic ends, with the help of vaccines, adopted animals should not be abandoned.

"Dogs especially are social creatures like humans. When you adopt one, it should be forever and not just to have a temporary sensation of relief during this health crisis," Leyla Acar, a volunteer in an animal shelter, said to Xinhua.

"These animals need a permanent home. People who are not ready for this lifetime responsibility and want to have a pet at home for a few months should reconsider their decision," she warned.

"This would cause an enormous stress for the animal who would have bonded with its owner," she remarked.

This animal carer called on local and government authorities to initiate a plan for those unemployed pet owners to prevent abandonment due to an inability to provide care.

Turkey has stepped up measures against a second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and introduced in early December new restrictions, including night curfews and full weekend lockdowns.

Mustafa Yildiz, head of the Chamber of Veterinarians of Sakarya province, in northwestern Turkey, about 100 km south of Istanbul, said that with the new lockdown measures, there is a significant rise in cats and dogs adoptions.

"Pets are essential to fill the psychological vacuum of a lack of socializing. We are happy that there is a boom in adoptions," Yildiz told the local press.

"Now that we are going through a new wave of the pandemic, people turn toward non-human companionship, and we call upon them to adopt stray animals instead of buying animals from pet shops," he said.

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