Do You Have a Pet Therapist?
Pet therapy or animal-assisted therapy utilizes trained animals and handlers to achieve specific
physical, social, cognitive, and emotional goals with patients (encyclopedia.com). We may have
witnessed these interactions firsthand in the hospital setting, nursing home, library readings
with children, or even during crises. However, have you ever considered how much your
household pet does for your well being on a daily basis? It maybe your dog getting you up to go
for a daily walk even if you don’t feel like it, therefore keeping you physically active. Maybe it’s
your cat snuggling you just when you feel lonely. It maybe the peacefulness of the aquarium
glow and the way the fish greet you when you feed them. These are just a few examples of
some of the benefits of how pets can greatly impact our lives.
During the pandemic many people sought out companionship from a pet. According to an
article written by the Washington Post (January 6, 2021), the national pet adoption rate was up
34% over the same time a year earlier (Covid -19 Impact Report) and that the last time the D.C.
animal welfare official saw such a rise of pet adoptions was after 9/11. This goes to show many
people sought comfort in an animal friend.
Pet therapy is one of the most widely used treatments of care inside one’s home. Our personal
pets can greatly improve our health by decreasing our blood pressure and cholesterol,
decreasing our loneliness, and increasing our physical activity. However, having a pet is not
right for everyone and finding the right pet for you and your family is also just as important. The
CDC article Healthy Pets, Healthy People (last reviewed April 15, 2019) discusses many of the
benefits of owning a pet. This article also elaborates on picking the right pet for you and your
family as well as staying healthy while owning a pet with special considerations for the elderly,
young and pregnant populations.
Know that opening your family and hearts to a pet can be a renewing and life changing
experience, not only for the pet, but for you as well that provides great physical and mental
Shelters (just a few of many)
Friends of Homeless Animals http://foha.org
Loudoun County Animal Shelter http://www.loudoun.gov/animals
SPCA of Northern VA http://spcanova.org
Homeless Animal Rescue Team- HART - http://hart90.org
The Cats at Longstreet—find them on Facebook
Pet Therapy Resources
Heeling House, Sterling VA
K-9 Caring Angels, Manassas, VA