Animal Can Be Therapists?
By: Isabella Wong
How often do you take a walk around your neighborhood and notice your neighbors crossing the street with a leash in hand? It can be difﬁcult for some people to understand the beneﬁts that you and your family can gain from owning a pet. Pets do more for their owners than just living in their homes rent-free. They provide family insight into animal life and provide humans with a source of comfort. According to the 2021-2022 National Pet Owners Survey, about 70% or 90.5 million American households own a pet, and many people found that their pets have been a lot of support in their lives. For example, there are currently 500,000 service dogs helping those with disabilities and disadvantages.
To some people, pets may seem like a burden or a roadblock in their lives. They may feel that it’s a waste of time and money to provide so much care for them and receive nothing in return. However, studies suggest that pets can play a role in improving one’s childhood.
According to BBC Future, studies such as one that involved a dog being in the same room as children while they were completing tasks showed that the children “made fewer errors on an object categorization tasks” and “needed fewer prompts in a memory task.” Thus, pets can help improve children’s’, and possibly even adults’ concentration. Pets also have been proven to also improve children’s’ daily lifestyle and their health. Data showed that children from ages 2-5 with a family dog grew up to be more physically active and got more sleep than those without pets. (BBC Future)
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many of people have felt overwhelmed due to stress and loneliness. Pets have not been an effective way to improve the mental health of such people. A professor of human-animal interaction at Tufts University found that mental health problems caused by serious stressors, such as COVID-19, are not something that domestic animals can help with.
However, this does not mean it would be harmful to provide people that are hurting with support from a friendly animal companion. In fact, it has been demonstrated that the resolution of conﬂict in relationships can be aided by pets. According to John Bradshaw, former reader in companion animal behavior at the University of Bristol, humans can “learn from their pet, somehow, how to be more understanding, empathetic and responsive to animals.”
All and all, children really value their pets. They not only look at their pets as animals, but also as supportive friends and even as close family members.