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Did the COVID-19 Pandemic Spark a Public Interest in Pet Adoption?

Jeffery Ho, Sabir Hussain,
Published: 7 May 2021
Frontiers in Veterinary Science , Volume 8; doi:10.3389/fvets.2021.647308

Abstract: This study aimed to determine if there has been an increase of global interest on pet adoption immediately after the WHO declaration of the pandemic and if the effect has been sustainable in 8 months on. We conducted a Google Trends search using keywords related to pet adoption. Relative search volume (RSV) was scored between 0 and 100 for the lowest and the highest, respectively. Top countries contributing to the dataset included Australia, the United States, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Singapore, the Philippines, and Malaysia. From 2015 through 2020, the worldwide RSV for the categories of pet, dog and cat adoption peaked between April and May 2020, the early epidemic phase of the pandemic. These were significantly higher than the 5-year worldwide average RSV for all three categories (P = 0.001). Comparing to the same period in 2019, the RSV ratio (2020/2019) for both dog and cat adoption increased by up to 250%. Nonetheless, the RSV for dog adoption has been decreasing since July 2020 and returned to the 5-year average by December 2020. In contrast, the interest in cat adoption remained sustainably high, possibly reflecting the feline acclimation to indoor living. In conclusion, the global interest in pet adoptions surged in the early phase of the pandemic but not sustainable. With the launch of COVID-19 vaccines, there is a concern for separation anxiety and possible abandonment of these newly adopted pets when the owners would leave their homes for work in the future.
Keywords: COVID-19 / Google trend / pet adoption / Companion animal / Animal Welfare / Epidemiology / Public Health / Infodemiology

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