With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, people are finding themselves ready to escape and travel.
For pet owners, the journey can be a bit more difficult, especially for those looking to bring their pets on board.
The increase in the number of pet owners during the pandemic and the rush to hit the road has placed an overwhelming demand on service providers such as groomers, vets and kennels.
Linda Preece, owner of Dirty Dog Pet Salon in Cambridge, is seeing an increase in her business – with an average of three to five new customers per day – and she is booked several weeks in advance. She also noticed how many customers had dogs during the pandemic and that a number of them are first-time pet owners.
âIt’s nothing to have several new dogs every day,â said Preece.
Preece also offers a kennel service, which she says took a hell of a beating last year due to the lack of travel for many people. However, this year is shaping up to be quite different.
For the kennel, Preece is booked until July. She has clients who want weeklong vacations and others who want three day getaways.
âI think more people just want to go out again,â she said.
Dr Rachel Eliott of the Cambridge Animal Clinic notes a similar problem.
âWe’re very, very criticized for boarding all of a sudden,â Elliott said.
Being a veterinary practice, boarding is done on a limited basis so that kennels can be available to patients. She advises her clients to book now for boarding if they know their travel dates, as the kennels are booked for the next few weeks.
Elliot has also seen an increase in the number of patients, and surgeries for sterilization and sterilization are now booked until September.
âIt’s crazy. We’ve always been away a month or two, but never this far and we’ve been like this since last year, when it all started,â Elliott said. âAt the very beginning, it was because we were limited on the surgeries we could do. We couldn’t do routine things. We could only do emergency things because of the PPE shortages ( personal protective equipment) and so we are a little behind. “
Another issue that has arisen in the wake of the pandemic is separation anxiety and socialization issues among animals as people who were at home during the pandemic are returning to work.
Typically, when someone receives a new people, they take them with them as if to a stadium, Elliott said. But, last year when people had puppies they were home with them and the puppies weren’t exposed to other people or animals which led to the problem.
âWe say ‘I don’t want to go anywhere’ and our pets say the same,â Elliott said. “There will be some for which we will probably have to take medication and for some it will be the owners who will gradually work with them to get them used to things.”
Social behaviors and anxiety can lead animals to fear and fear can lead to bites or other injuries, such as a scared dog pulling off the leash and running down the road, according to Elliot.
âWhen they’re scared some dogs freeze and some dogs take action, so there are risks for that,â Elliot said. She suggests obedience classes and puppy training classes for socialization issues.
âThere’s been a lot of why, why are we so affected because there are a lot of businesses that have been so negatively affected and we’re the opposite,â Elliott said. In fact, the office is so busy that Elliot has temporarily stopped taking new clients.