A Mixed-Methods Assessment of Human Well-Being Related to the Presence of Companion Animals During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Bindi Bennett, Suzie Cosh, Jack Thepsourinthone, Amy Lykins

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Abstract

COVID-19 and the measures used to curb the pandemic (e.g., lockdowns, isolation) have significantly impacted mental health and well-being. This study sought to investigate the role of companion animals in alleviating stress and improving mental health during the pandemic. In this study, 250 Australian adults completed measures of well-being and life satisfaction, animal dependency, perceived emotional support from animals, and animals’ effect on mood. Employment and living with others were the strongest predictors of positive life satisfaction and well-being, while greater dependency on companion animals for emotional support and companion animals’ negative effects on mood were associated with reduced life satisfaction and well-being. Qualitative data indicated equivocal results with animals a source of both support and stress, pointing to the complex nature of human–animal relationships, particularly during times of considerable stress. These outcomes have significant implications for welfare, as animals perceived to be annoying or disruptive may be at higher risk of abuse, neglect, and behavioral surrendering.
Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalPeople and Animals: The INternational Journal of Research adn Practice
Volume5
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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