Psychological Benefits Of Pets Essay

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Kristen Dennis Honors Contract Essay Dr. Potter 2 May 2014 The Psychological Benefits of Pets 62% of Americans own at least one pet (Chloe)- 70% of pet owners have a dog and 46% have a cat (humanesociety.com). Americans spend more than $50 billion annually on their beloved dogs, cats, fish, and other companions (humanesociety.com). Over 90% of pet owners regard their pet as a valued, family member (McNicholas, Gilbey, Rennie, Ahmedzai, Dono, Omerod). But pets are messy, loud, expensive, and require lots of care and attention. So what makes pets worth all the trouble and inconvenience? What redeeming quality do pets have that make us willing to spend so much time and money on them? According to the American Psychological Association, pets can serve as important sources of social and emotional support for both children, adults, and the elderly alike. One of the most common reasons for pet ownership is companionship. Amongst psychologists, companionship is considered theoretically different from social support because it does not offer extrinsic support, which is not a part of the essential nature of someone, but provides intrinsic satisfactions, which are absolutely vital and necessary to our well being and happiness (McNicholas, Gilbey, Rennie, Ahmedzai, Dono, Omerod). Because of this, companionship is very important in keeping and nourishing positive mental health throughout your life. The bond between pets was first studied over 30 years ago when psychologists Alan Beck of Purdue University and Aaron Katcher of the University of Pennsylvania actually measured what happens physically when a person pets a friendly and familiar dog (Stanley). Definite signs of reduced stress were recorded, heart rate slowed, blood pressure lowe... ... middle of paper ... ...the dog enters a public building (usdogregistery.org). Emotional support dogs are dogs that have been trained to provide companionship and comfort to those suffering from various emotional and mental issues and diseases (usdogregistery.org). These dogs do require training, but do not have to perform specific tasks like therapy dogs do. Their sole job to to provide unconditional love and support to their owners (usdogregistry.org). These dogs can assist people who have depression, anxiety disorders, fears and phobias, bipolar disorder, and many more (usdogregistery.org). And, just like service dogs, they are protected under the Fair Housing Amendments Act, which allows these dogs to live with their owners even when there is a no pet policy in place, and the Air Carrier Access Act, which allows their pets to fly with them at no additional charge (usdogregistry.org).
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