How animals help

Kaylee Hillard, Staff Writer

Animals have a profound impact on many people’s lives. They help to create a positive environment in a household as well as in nursing homes, children’s hospitals and many other places.


One way animals can help people is when they come into the Therapy office.  Animal-Assisted Therapy began in early 1990’s and now almost all animals can be used for therapy. These animals can help patients develop social skills. They keep people healthy and happy by reducing blood pressure, heart rates and stress levels. About 62% of American households have pets. Most people who own pets believe the animals are part of the family and love them unconditionally.


Animals are also a popular attraction in nursing homes. Having animals around is important for the social and physical well-being of elderly people. Hanging out with a furry companion makes the elderly feel less lonely, and therefore reduces depression. According to Penny B. Donnenfeld, a psychologist in New York City, her Golden Retriever mix has brought back forgotten memories in  elderly patients diagnosed with memory loss. “Having a pet helps the seniors focus on something other than physical problems and negative preoccupations about loss or aging,” she said.


Pets in a household can help all members of the family. At Hollis Brookline High School, guidance counselor Richard Winslow explained that horses especially are used to help kids with autism and explained “the feeling of being on top and controlling this massive animal is freeing.” For children who grow up with no siblings, having a pet can help develop a higher self esteem and increased participation in social and physical activities. Parents often use dogs to help teach children responsibility by having them feed their dogs, clean up after them, and bring them on walks. Animals are a good way of healing and keeping people happy and healthy.