Feature: Kenyans find solace in pets amid COVID-19 related social pressures

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 6, 2020
Adjust font size:

NAIROBI, Sept. 5 (Xinhua) -- Jaylee Julius Were was relaxing at his family compound located on the eastern edges of the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, running his fingers through the dense fur of Trixie, a four-month-old playful puppy.

The youngster has found genuine pleasure in playing and caring for his new pet ever since his mother succumbed to his "pester power" and finally got him Trixie.

According to Were, Trixie has been providing companionship to the family amid prolonged school closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and restricted access to amusement parks.

"I love Trixie. He likes playing with me and licking me. I do not get bored when I am in the house because he makes for good company," Jaylee told Xinhua during an interview on Friday.

Many Kenyan urban households have sought the companionship of pets to help deal with social pressures linked to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dog owners are now clinging to them for friendship unlike the pre-COVID era when their main purpose was to ward off trespassers.

Parents like Anne Ayita have honoured their children's demands and brought a pet into the family, an idea she wasn't too keen to explore before the first case of COVID-19 was reported in Kenya.

"The children had been asking for a pet for a long time but I was reluctant to get them because they were still in school and a pet would be a distraction, but when it became clear that the school break would be longer than anticipated, I had a change of mind," Ayita told Xinhua.

She said that she has been able to wean her children off their electronic gadgets because they now play inside the compound with the family pet.

Ayita said that having the dog has fostered a sense of responsibility in her children.

"Their willingness to care for the dogs is refreshing. I am delighted to see that the children have fostered a good relationship with the puppy," said Ayita.

Raredon Omukhulu, a Nairobi-based veterinary doctor, said that demand for pets has been overwhelming in the COVID-19 era as households realize their therapeutic value.

"The COVID-19 period has let people realize the importance of having pets within their daily living environment and the mentality that pets are only kept for commercial purposes is no more," said Omukhulu.

Maryanne Kamene, a business administrator says that she recently acquired a cat for her toddler who has been restless because of extended stay indoors.

"I hope the cat influences empathy in my child, I want to teach her how to relate to people and plus the cat allows her to be active which is a good thing," said Kamene.

Andrew Omuyoma, a lifelong dog breeder said he had witnessed an increase in customers keen to acquire puppies since mid-March when schools closed to avert COVID-19 transmissions.

"I started rearing dogs several years ago and suffice to say business is vibrant right now because children are out of school and after playing with their friends they want something more refreshing," said Omuyoma.

He sells exotic breeds that include Japanese spitz, Maltese and Tibetan terrier, adding that they are popular with Kenyans because of their aesthetic nature and affordability.

"The prize range is between 15 to 30 shillings (0.14-0.28 U.S. dollars) depending on the size of the dog and a host of other factors I consider before settling on the prize," said Omuyoma.

Once viewed as an expression of prestige and economic status by affluent individuals in Kenya, pet ownership has experienced a radical shift during the COVID-19 era.

"Things have changed since I started selling dogs a decade ago, more people are starting to realize that keeping them is not as expensive as previously perceived," said Omuyoma.

He said the cultural shift could be occasioned by the entry of more dog breeders in the local market who have introduced competitive prices.

Emily Mudoga, a Nairobi-based animal welfare advocate, said that pet ownership has been a time honored tradition among African communities.

"Actually in Africa pet ownership is high, if you go to rural areas, all boys have a dog. You will notice in a homestead, the watchdog and the dog of the children has different attitudes because the children's dog is actually a pet," Mudoga told a local television station in a recent interview. Enditem

Follow China.org.cn on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download
Print E-mail Bookmark and Share

Go to Forum >>0 Comment(s)

No comments.

Add your comments...

  • User Name Required
  • Your Comment
  • Enter the words you see:   
    Racist, abusive and off-topic comments may be removed by the moderator.
Send your storiesGet more from China.org.cnMobileRSSNewsletter