It’s hard to find a person who doesn’t like animals, even if they don’t own one. There is something honest and endearing about the unconditional love shared by animals that is hard to resist.
Everyone can benefit from the joy of having regular contact with an animal - people of all ages and abilities, health conditions and physical challenges, the love of an animal knows no limits.
Animal Assistance Therapy has been researched and proven in a study by MonashLink, to assist in developing resilience in adolescents, as a tool in preventing depression, anxiety and drug use. Sounds like every child should have access to a pet in their home or extended community network!
Helpguide.org, a non profit health resource website advises that animal contact, especially when it involves a level or responsibility and training, has shown to have measurable improvements on health and wellbeing, including lower triglyceride levels, lower blood pressure in times of stress and better outcomes after serious health incidents such as cardiac arrest.
Pet ownership provides a wonderful opportunity to naturally reduce stress and tension, through touch and movement and sensory relief. This can be particularly relevant for anyone with an autism spectrum disorder, and having responsibility for the care of an animal requires routine and structure, and can also act as a social lubricant as pet owners, particularly dog walkers often stop and chat.
If you need convincing, check out kids at a petting zoo, or visit supported living accommodation for senior citizens with a dog, and you will see for yourself the effect an animal can have on people of all ages.
When you consider how expensive, time consuming and difficult to access therapy and counselling can be, the cost and time commitment to a family pet is a small investment with immeasurable rewards and well worth the risk. We might not all be a dog or a cat person, but with options from reptiles to rodents, scales, fins and feathers, there is a pet for just about every taste and lifestyle.