STORIES BY KATIE BUCKLEY

The Human Connection Blog

Published: December 13, 2020

Animal Adoption Rates Rise In Jacksonville to Combat Rise In Mental Health Concerns Due to Pandemic.

Published: Nov. 15, 2020

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Areas around the country began to close down in February and March because of COVID-19. Most people were forced to quarantine – some were worried about their health, some lost their jobs and some began working from home permanently.

Caring Canine and Pet Partners of North Florida team up for “World’s Largest Pet Walk” in September. Photo courtesy of Pet Partners of North Florida

Crisis fatigue set in. This is a combination of anxiety, stress, isolation, burn-out and depression. Chronic stressors began negatively affecting U.S. adults during the pandemic. 

According to a recent Center for Disease Control and Prevention study on mental health, 40% of the U.S. adults reported struggling with mental health during late June.

People were desperate to find ways to help their mental health, and many turned to animal adoptions. Across the country, animal adoption rates rose throughout the pandemic, as people searched for a furry companion to keep them company at home.

The Jacksonville Humane Society saw an increase in animal adoption rates, as well as an increase in fosters.

“They definitely had a lot more time on their hands, and [that] was as good a time as any to bring a new family member home,” said Danielle Howell, JHS’s Communications Assistant. So, we did see an influx in adoption rates, I would say.” 

Pets are known to help people’s mental health, and there is even pet therapy offered now. 

Pet Partners of North Florida is a nonprofit organization consisting of animal therapy teams that visit hospitals, schools, workplaces and nursing homes. They have a wide array of animals including dogs, cats, mini horses, rabbits and more.

During the pandemic, hospitals stopped letting these teams visit due to the risk of spreading the virus. Instead, they started visiting workplaces. 

Pet Partners sent out therapy teams to the Amazon Warehouse where a shooting happened during the pandemic to provide employees with stress relief.

“We love animals as a culture, and we love animals as a nation. I think that pet therapy, now more than ever, because of everything that we’re dealing with as a nation, as a culture, are even better received,” said Lorri Reynolds, Pet Partner’s Board Chair and licensed instructor. “They literally have been known to lower blood pressure, to improve depression-depression and the feelings of depression.”

Sarah Walck, a server and bartender at Ida Claire, noticed herself becoming more tired and stressed throughout the pandemic. Some days she struggled to get out of bed.

Even though she already had one cat, she decided to adopt a kitten in June to bring more energy and excitement into her apartment. Since adopting her kitten Bao, Walck and her other cat have been happier at home. 

“He’s a handful, but he’s very cute and very energetic,” said Walck. “He brings a lot more life into my apartment which makes it definitely easier when I’m stuck here most of the time.”

While a pet isn’t a cure-all for mental health, the responsibility of taking care of another being can help someone be more active. Petting animals is even proven to release oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” which promotes feelings of well-being and love.

Local Breweries Slowly Making a Comeback after Pandemic Restrictions Lifted

Published: Oct. 16, 2020

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For Bold City Brewery and Intuition Ale Works, pandemic restrictions have struck their businesses hard over these past few months. With taprooms closed, they struggled with supplementing their lost income.

Mass produced canned beer for shipments at Bold City Brewery. Photo by Katie Buckley.

Most tap rooms closed down in Jacksonville from March to May before being allowed to open at a limited capacity. In those months, business dropped substantially. 

These breweries relied on to-go sales to keep themselves afloat. While people couldn’t come in and grab a pint and chat, they could still support their local breweries by buying canned beer.

Breweries kicked production into high gear. Draft sales went down, as restaurants around the area closed. Some breweries, like Bold City and Intuition, were lucky enough to have their products in grocery stores. Other businesses had to rely on people picking up canned beer at the brewery’s front door. 

The pandemic didn’t just affect sales, staff were also faced with many problems. Bold City didn’t lose any of their tight-knit staff. However, they were forced to cut the staff’s pay by 20% in order to survive in the pandemic.

Intuition wasn’t as lucky. 

Canned beer for shipments and sale at Intuition Ale Works. Courtesy: Facebook/Intuition Ale Works Facebook.

“While our production team continued to work, our bartenders were forced to look for other work during this time,” Lindsay Hawkins, Intuition’s general manager, said. “Luckily, we are getting most of them back now.”

Intuition is an event-driven brewery in Downtown Jacksonville. The pandemic halted that side of their business. Numerous private events, such as weddings and concerts, were canceled.

Bold City was able to get a restaurant license for their taproom, which allowed people in during the bar and brewery restrictions. They said it was easy to obtain the license and it helped Bold City slowly start to recover their business.

While restrictions were harsh, the legislature went out of their way to discuss matters with bars and breweries. 

Susan Miller, co-owner of Bold City Brewery, said,

“They [legislature] specifically met with bars and breweries to try and figure out how to get them back open. They understood the impact and the difference between a bar and brewery.”

Still, business isn’t the same as before the pandemic. Taproom closures put a significant dent in breweries’ profits. Even after reopening, many people have stayed home for safety reasons.

However, the community was supportive throughout these months. To-go sales may not have equated to taproom sales, but they allowed breweries to keep personable connections with their customers.

With restrictions lifting and events around the city happening more frequently, breweries hope business will pick up. Taprooms are now completely open, but safety measures are still being taken.

Tables in Bold City’s taproom are spaced apart for guest comfort and safety – Intuition is just the same. These breweries even switched from glass to plastic cups to minimize contact between guests.

These breweries aren’t sure what will happen next, but they’re trying their best to go back to normal.