Previously published in Examiner on Feb 26, 2013
There is no secret that many Americans rely on food stamps to survive these trying times. According to Digital Journal published yesterday, “Food stamps usage in the U.S. has been going steadily up since 2008. With so many Americans out of work and in some cases losing their homes, the family pet has become the next heartbreaking sacrifice. Who could imagine having to make the choice between who eats in the family? Who could imagine the pain of giving up a family pet because there is no longer a means to support their care? There has been a huge increase in the amount of pets given up at shelters merely because their owners could no longer afford to feed them. Sadly, companion dogs to the elderly and disabled are among the counted and that number rises every day.”
I have had pets all my life. I don’t think I could live without a pet. They bring such joy to our home.
A new organization called Pet Food Stamps has just opened. It has nonprofit status and will be providing pet stamps for low income families and the elderly. Digital Journal goes on to say, “In the past two weeks since the site launched it has processed over 45.000 pets. The application process is handled online. Once the application has been processed the family will receive the pet food stamps monthly. Pet Food Stamps is hoping to extend the service to include veterinary services in the future.
I think it is about time an organization realizes the importance of animals in our lives.
According to WebMD, “Pets offer an unconditional love that can be very helpful to people with depression,” says Ian Cook, MD, a psychiatrist and director of the Depression Research and Clinic Program at UCLA. Studies show that animals can reduce tension and improve mood. Along with treatment, pets can help some people with mild to moderate depression feel better.
Furthermore Mood Letter maintains that, “Pets have been proven to have a positive influence on our physical and mental health. Owning a pet can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, reducing the risk of heart disease. But research has found that pets are also therapeutic for people with mood and anxiety disorders and other psychiatric disorders.”
From firsthand experience I can tell you that animals are therapeutic and deserve much more credit than we give them. The give some people the reason to live.
Greenhounds maintains that pet therapy: “provides entertainment and education, distraction from pain and infirmity and their surroundings (often institutional), encourages social interaction, motivates physical movement, e.g. stroking and grooming the pet, encourages cognitive functions such as memory, emotions and speech, and provides comfort and joy among the elderly and disabled.
I wish there was a way that non animal lovers could know what we know. I wish they could just experience at least once in their lifetime the joy of having an animal.
Animals are more than just pets they provide therapy for the mentally ill, the handicapped, and the lonely elderly Americans who flourish because of their companionship. This new program will help pet owners continue to keep their animals and their enjoyment in life.