If loneliness and isolation are affecting your daily life during these uncertain times, consider adopting a furry friend.


Not only are there health benefits to owning a pet, but you would also be rescuing an animal in need of a good home.


Consider these facts: A 2019 study published by the Mayo Clinic reported that out of 1,800 people between the ages of 25-64, who had no cardiovascular issues, 42% of them owned a dog.


Those with dogs maintained more heart-healthy habits such as exercising and eating healthier, the Mayo Clinic said.


Another 2019 study, by the National Poll On Healthy Aging, surveyed 2,501 adults aged 50 to 80. According to the report, out of the half who said they owned a pet, 88% said their pets helped them enjoy life and 86% stated their pets made them feel loved.


Naomi Gauntlett operates Animals Can’t Talk, a cat rescue based in East Stroudsburg.


When Monroe County entered into the green phase in June, she was able to resume adoptions.


"I have done some adoptions from home. Starting in July, I have been at PetSmart (in Stroudsburg) from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturdays," Gauntlett said. "I have not been able to leave cats there yet as most of my volunteers that did the cleaning there morning and evening are (still) not comfortable coming out," she said. "I am going to ask PetSmart if their employees can do it going forward until this pandemic is over."


Since the shelter-in-place order was issued in March, animal rescues groups such as Gauntlett’s and the Animal Welfare Society of Monroe (AWSOM) have reported an increase of stray cats and kittens.


"My development is flooded with kittens," Gauntlett said. "I got a call (one night), and one of my volunteer’s neighbor had two (mother cats) and nine kittens, one sick. I told him I was overloaded, but the sick one has been bothering me and I am going to call him shortly to take it to the vet."


Gauntlett believes due to COVID-19, there are more stray cats.


"I think with the pandemic going on spay and neuter has not been on everyone’s mind, hence the amount of kittens now," she said." I hope people utilize the spay/neuter clinics around now and get these stray kittens fixed. There’s EPAA, AWSOM, Creature Comforts and Monroe Animal League for vouchers."


A spokesperson for AWSOM adds that most of their kittens and cats are living in foster homes since the shelter is currently at full capacity.


Keeping your new pet safe


AWSOM also reported an increase of stray and lost dogs this summer.


"A lot of people don’t like to walk their pets on leash, so they let them out in the yard, something spooks them or they chase whatever they see," AWSOM said in a statement. "They should be on leashes or runners or watched if they are not on a leash. People go back inside and they forget about their dog."


When adopting a new furry friend, make sure they are microchipped and spayed or neutered.


"Microchips are huge in reuniting animals, tags can get lost, collars can fall off," AWSOM said.


Every time a pet is lost from its home, the shelter posts a photo on its Facebook page, along with the address of where it was found.


Residents must provide proof of ownership to be reunited with their pets.


Melissa Penta, a volunteer who works with Animals Can’t Talk, says a lot of times cats can escape from open windows.


"Be sure to check that screens on windows are on tight. If the screen is separating from the frame, a cat can easily turn a small hole into one they can fit right through," she said. "Do not keep windows unattended when fully opened. A cat could put its weight into the screen and bust it right open."


While adopting a pet has its rewards, it’s also important to consider the responsibilities.


"Cats are more self manageable, but dogs need to go outside, they need to be walked and a would be more suitable for someone that doesn’t have any mobility issues," said Ana Velez, a licensed clinical social worker based in Gilbert. "Also, you should have a back up plan for your pet, someone you can trust just in case something happens and you know that your pet would be taken care of."


Gauntlett agrees.


"If you are moving and can’t take your cat (or dog) with you, don’t just leave them outside," she said. "That happened here (last week) and I heard of individuals throwing stones at them. A neighbor contacted me about it. I got them to the vet, had them checked out, and the neighbor talked her sister into adopting one and her neighbor took the other."


The adoption process


To view adoptable pets from AWSOM, go to awsomanimals.org. A pre-adoption form is available on the website.


Photos of adoptable cats and kittens from Animals Can’t Talk are are available at animalscanttalk.org.


Both organizations are in need of monetary donations, along with cat, kitten, and dog food.