Difficulties of pet care amid pandemic

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A pastel ball python curls into a ball at Aquatic Gardens in Beaver Falls.

Pogue Regan, Copy Editor

Have you ever gone to PetSmart solely to look at the cats? Well, with COVID-19 precautions, you can no longer do that.

The pandemic has created many hardships and difficulties for small businesses. This includes local pet stores. Many people are facing obstacles for this reason. They cannot hold an animal to see if the animal is a good fit for them, thus making them reluctant to purchase said animal. With some pets, such as reptiles and felines, it’s almost always ideal to handle the animal first, just to get a feel for how they act around you. Perhaps a cat is too aggressive for your liking, or maybe a snake has too much attitude for you.

The pandemic hasn’t just affected interested pet owners though. Small pet stores such as Aquatic Gardens and Pet Supplies Plus are facing issues on opposite sides of the spectrum.  

While Pet Supplies Plus is struggling with mask enforcement and pet sales, Aquatic Gardens is thriving. The owner says that their business has seen growth during the pandemic. He credits the increase in pet sales and the call for the support of small businesses. However, he acknowledges that some businesses haven’t been as fortunate. 

“I feel bad for the businesses that are suffering right now,” the owner of Aquatic Gardens said, in reference to the countless businesses that have closed during the pandemic. 

As mentioned previously, some businesses prohibit the handling of animals, but others haven’t changed their policies at all. Aquatic Gardens still allows regular pet handling, while Pet Supplies Plus and PetSmart don’t allow any handling. PetSmart has also gone one step farther by placing markers around glass enclosures to let customers know where they should and should not stand. 

Despite all of these difficulties, pet sales are soaring. It’s said that this increase is due to the prolonged quarantine. Quarantine can get lonely, and what better way to relieve that loneliness than with a furry, scaly or feathered friend? Business people have had more time for pets, and teenagers have had time to persuade their parents into getting those exotic animals. 

Pet stores are some of the only small businesses that aren’t struggling immensely right now. Business is guaranteed, as pets will always need to eat, stay healthy and be plain spoiled. Despite their continuous success, you can still support them. There has never been a better time to nag your parents about a family pet because you’ll simply be supporting a small business. If you manage to persuade your guardian, make sure that you take the proper precautions in stores and around pets. Keeping people and animals safe is, and always will be, the biggest priority.