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Has the pandemic changed pet ownership forever? It seems that way. A new survey from Banfield Pet Hospital reveals pet owners are worrying more about leaving their pets at home when they return to the outside workplace. Likewise, employers are introducing, or planning to introduce, new pet-friendly practices for their businesses when employees go back to working at the office. This is good news for our furry companions, who have been by our side, not only during the pandemic but for thousands and thousands of years.

Banfield Pet Hospital, with more than 1,000 pet hospitals across the country, polled 1,500 pet owners and 500 executives to learn more about how people are viewing pet ownership in the time of COVID-19. The hospital giant found 1-in-3 people took in a new pet during the pandemic, including about half of all Gen Zers. And about 80 percent of those surveyed claimed to now have a greater bond with their pet due to more time together.

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The survey discovered more than half of pet owners expressed concerns about how their pets will acclimate to being alone when they are no longer staying at or working from home. According to the survey, 1-in-5 pet owners are thinking about rehoming their pets if their workplace doesn’t allow pets when they return. However, half of Gen Zers and 1-in-3 millennials reported considering a different job if their current employer doesn’t allow pets upon returning to the workplace.

“At Banfield, we understand that pet ownership is incredibly rewarding, but it also comes with its challenges. Our goal is to not only be there for the tail wags and snuggles but also to help prevent issues wherever and whenever we can,” said Molly McAllister, chief medical officer of Banfield Pet Hospital, according to the press release. “If pet owners are feeling overwhelmed or have questions or concerns, in addition to taking care of your pet’s health, veterinary teams can advise on all aspects of caring for your pet to help ensure pets and their families stay together.”

Employers are also pet owners, and 75 percent of the C-suite executives surveyed claimed that being a pet owner made them better business leaders. Half of the companies reported upcoming plans to allow pets in the workplace when employees return. More than half of the executives also reported plans to work with individuals who want to continue working remotely to stay home with their pets. While many executives simply understand that the bonds between their employees and pets have grown during the pandemic, they also recognize the benefits of bringing pets into the workplace.

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Banfield Pet Hospital surveyed companies that were already pet-friendly and found more than half of the employers reported employees were more willing to come to work when they could bring their pet. Almost half of the companies also stated employees were more likely to work later, resulting in an increase in productivity. Almost half of the employers who already implemented a pet-friendly policy are offering other pet-friendly services as well, such as financial support for veterinary care, pet bereavement leave, “pet-ernity” leave for new pet owners, and paid time off for scheduled pet care.

Many pet owners fear their pets may suffer from separation anxiety when they go back to the daily routine of leaving the home for work. Experts advise pet owners, who are concerned about returning to work, to consult with their veterinarian before the transition needs to take place in order to help make it easier for everyone. Banfield doctors recommend easing your pet into the new routine, avoiding emotional comings and goings, keeping up with regular exercise, and distracting your pet with a favorite toy or treat.

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“We’ve seen the human-animal bond only get stronger during the pandemic, and it’s no surprise that owners are thinking about how they can best be here for their pets when they start to spend more time outside of home,” said Brian Garish, president of Banfield Pet Hospital, according to the press release. “We believe we can advance human health through pet health, elevating societal well-being. That’s why we’ll continue to be here for pets and their owners as they adjust to this next normal, providing high-quality preventive care, no matter what 2021 brings.”

Banfield Pet Hospital was founded in 1955 and is part of the Mars Veterinary Health family of practices. The pet hospital chain cares for more than three million pets every year. With more than 3,6000 veterinarians, the hospital focuses on preventive pet health care, wellness checkups, pet dentistry, and other pet care services. The recent survey hosted by Banfield was conducted through OnePoll.

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