By Bob Gordon, FOTAS Director of Communications
If you needed another reason to go to the Aiken County Animal Shelter and adopt a homeless pet in need, here’s a big one: having a dog or cat at your home can help you live a longer, happier life.
Research shows that living with pets helps lower blood pressure and reduces anxiety. Pets also boost our immune systems, which helps ward off disease. In 1987, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stated that “pet ownership is a variable in public health outcomes that, like food and exercise, cannot be ignored.”
“Life is hard and having a pet softens the edges of it,” said Sue Ellen Benson, a Windsor resident and FOTAS volunteer, who recently adopted a sweet, seven-year-old Cocker Spaniel named Bonnie. “Pets make life easier because when you are focusing your attention on them, whatever problems you might be dealing with fade into the background.”
In the last three decades, the advantages pets can provide have become even clearer. Dogs, which have long been used to aid the blind, are now used to help people who have mobility and balance impairments. Also, since dogs can be so sensitive to human emotional needs, they are often used as “therapy pets” to help individuals suffering from PTSD and other anxiety-related conditions. These canines can provide a constant calming effect and the emotional support needed by people coping with such issues. FOTAS has helped select such dogs for veterans returning from overseas as well as for children coping with severe autism.
Cats also provide health benefits to their owners. Owning any pet is good for your heart but cats in particular lower your stress level. Petting a cat has a positive, calming effect as does hearing them purr. In fact, a University of Minnesota study found that over a 10-year period, cat owners were 30 percent less likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than non-cat owners
“We totally believe in the health benefits of pets,” said Kristin Chandler, who adopted two kittens, Olive and Tolliver, from the County Shelter this summer. She and her partner, Faith, are FOTAS Volunteers and also have three dogs living with them in their North Augusta home. “From exercise to stress relief, we wouldn’t know what to do without our animals,” Kristin added. “They know a lot more and pick up on more things than we give them credit for.”
If you are looking for a pet to make your life better, now is a great time to adopt from the shelter. The shelter is full and needs people to give these wonderful animals forever homes. There is a wide selection of dogs, cats, puppies and kittens to choose from and some of the animals are on special this month. FOTAS and the shelter are participating in Best Friends Animal Society’s national adoption promotion, “Welcome Home Your New MVP”, so cats and kittens can be adopted for just $15 and all Bully mix dogs are available for half price ($35). To see the animals available for adoption, please visit the shelter. You can also go to fotasaiken.org to see photos and short profiles of adoptable dogs and cats online.
Their lives are in our hands…