Date of Award

Spring 5-13-2022

Document Type


First Advisor

Deborah McCaw

Second Advisor

Kathryn Wagner


The purpose of this study is to explore the impact of animal companionship on mental health during COVID-19 for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. Through the use of qualitative methodology, specifically that of phenomenology, the lived experiences of participants who adopted animals during the pandemic and the effect of this decision on their mental health and quality of life is examined to better understand the relationship between animal companionship and mental health states such as anxiety, loneliness, and depression. An autoethnographic framework is utilized wherein I reflexively analyzed my own choices for adopting an animal companion during the pandemic in order to build rapport with participants and encourage flow of conversation. In order to build rapport with participants, the researcher used an autoethnographic framework analyzing their own experiences to guide the development of the study. Six (6) deaf and hard of hearing college students were interviewed as part of this study. Results showed that the experience of COVID-19 pandemic was unique for Deaf/HH people and those who adopted pets during this time reported improved mental health. It is hoped that the results of this study will bring to light the ways in which animal companionship can support mental health and resiliency during times of hardship and difficulty.



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