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      Effect of COVID-19 on Pet Food Bank Servicing: Quantifying Numbers of Clients Serviced in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside, British Columbia, Canada

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          Abstract

          Previous research has focused on the benefits and difficulties of pet ownership in people, who are experiencing homelessness. However, many pet services, such as pet food banks, serve a more varied population of people. Furthermore, the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been documented within the context of pet food banks. Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES) population comprises a notable proportion of the city's overall population and has a high density of people who are experiencing financial hardships, but some of whom do not always experience homelessness. The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of the number of clients and pets that are being serviced by a pet food bank, whether that has changed over time, and if it was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We analyzed available attendance and service records from The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals pet food bank between 2013 and 2020. We found that a median of 100 clients attended the food bank each week and that most of the companion animals serviced were cats (72.5%), then followed by dogs (25.2%), and rats (1.2%). Servicing was not consistent over time, with a weekly pattern of decreased attendance every fourth week of the month, which coincided with income assistance payments. This suggests that either servicing needs are decreased with income assistance or that the week of the month may present an access to care challenge. We also observed a decrease in the clientele attending in 2020 compared to previous years, suggesting an effect of COVID-19. Specifically, this trend was present for cats, rats, rabbits, and “other” companion animals, but not for dogs; the number of dog owners receiving services did not change in 2020, suggesting a difference between needed services in dog vs. other pet owners. The yearly trends shed light on the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations, highlighting the need for additional support through times of crisis. Overall, the data show a complex relationship between pet service provision and other community issues and highlight the need to consider pet food banks within the greater social services networks.

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          Most cited references41

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          COVID‐19 and Inequalities *

          Abstract This paper brings together evidence from various data sources and the most recent studies to describe what we know so far about the impacts of the COVID‐19 crisis on inequalities across several key domains of life, including employment and ability to earn, family life and health. We show how these new fissures interact with existing inequalities along various key dimensions, including socio‐economic status, education, age, gender, ethnicity and geography. We find that the deep underlying inequalities and policy challenges that we already had are crucial in understanding the complex impacts of the pandemic itself and our response to it, and that the crisis does in itself have the potential to exacerbate some of these pre‐existing inequalities fairly directly. Moreover, it seems likely that the current crisis will leave legacies that will impact inequalities in the long term. These possibilities are not all disequalising, but many are.
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            Human-animal relationships and interactions during the Covid-19 lockdown phase in the UK: Investigating links with mental health and loneliness

            Background The Covid-19 pandemic raises questions about the role that relationships and interactions between humans and animals play in the context of widespread social distancing and isolation measures. We aimed to investigate links between mental health and loneliness, companion animal ownership, the human-animal bond, and human-animal interactions; and to explore animal owners’ perceptions related to the role of their animals during lockdown. Methods A cross-sectional online survey of UK residents over 18 years of age was conducted between April and June 2020. The questionnaire included validated and bespoke items measuring demographics; exposures and outcomes related to mental health, wellbeing and loneliness; the human-animal bond and human-animal interactions. Results Of 5,926 participants, 5,323 (89.8%) had at least one companion animal. Most perceived their animals to be a source of considerable support, but concerns were reported related to various practical aspects of providing care during lockdown. Strength of the human-animal bond did not differ significantly between species. Poorer mental health pre-lockdown was associated with a stronger reported human-animal bond (b = -.014, 95% CI [-.023 - -.005], p = .002). Animal ownership compared with non-ownership was associated with smaller decreases in mental health (b = .267, 95% CI [.079 - .455], p = .005) and smaller increases in loneliness (b = -.302, 95% CI [-.461 - -.144], p = .001) since lockdown. Conclusion The human-animal bond is a construct that may be linked to mental health vulnerability in animal owners. Strength of the human-animal bond in terms of emotional closeness or intimacy dimensions appears to be independent of animal species. Animal ownership seemed to mitigate some of the detrimental psychological effects of Covid-19 lockdown. Further targeted investigation of the role of human-animal relationships and interactions for human health, including testing of the social buffering hypothesis and the development of instruments suited for use across animal species, is required.
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              Food Insecurity during COVID ‐19

              Abstract For a decade, Feeding America's Map the Meal Gap (MMG) has provided sub‐state‐level estimates of food insecurity for both the full‐population and for children. Along with being extensively used by food banks, it is widely used by state‐ and local‐governments to help plan responses to food insecurity in their communities. In this paper, we describe the methods underpinning MMG, detail the approach Feeding America has used to make projections about the geography of food insecurity in 2020, and how food insecurity rates may have changed due to COVID‐19 since 2018. We project an increase of 17 million Americans who are food insecure in 2020 but this aggregate increase masks substantial geographic variation found in MMG.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Vet Sci
                Front Vet Sci
                Front. Vet. Sci.
                Frontiers in Veterinary Science
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                2297-1769
                20 September 2021
                2021
                20 September 2021
                : 8
                : 730390
                Affiliations
                Faculty of Land and Food Systems, Animal Welfare Program, University of British Columbia , Vancouver, BC, Canada
                Author notes

                Edited by: Kevin Horecka, Walmart Technology, United States

                Reviewed by: Laura Reese, Michigan State University, United States; Wioletta Biel, West Pomeranian University of Technology, Poland

                *Correspondence: Marina Schor mschor1@ 123456jh.edu

                This article was submitted to Veterinary Humanities and Social Sciences, a section of the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science

                †Present address: Marina Schor, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, United States

                Article
                10.3389/fvets.2021.730390
                8488433
                b17118ca-727e-4df3-8b29-ff3fce627848
                Copyright © 2021 Schor and Protopopova.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                History
                : 24 June 2021
                : 25 August 2021
                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 0, Equations: 0, References: 49, Pages: 8, Words: 5663
                Categories
                Veterinary Science
                Original Research

                homelessness,food bank,companion animal,pets,human-animal bond,covid-19

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