From Therapy Pets to Patriots: How Our Four-legged Companions Help

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Over 78 million dogs are best friends to us humans. There’s also 85 million cats and a couple million reptiles and other critters. They’ve long since been next to our sides for companionship and survival.

Our domestication of animals goes back tens of thousands of years. We don’t really know why we’ve taken to owning pets; they just seem like they’ve always been there.

More than a Companion

Today, our ability to train animals have allowed us to facilitate many of our needs. From helping us overcome PTSD to detecting bombs, participating in the military to being superstars on television.

Let’s talk about a few ways our furry companions are helping our society:

Therapy

Service and therapy dogs are used to provide companionship for those with physical and emotional difficulties. They provide affection and comfort to those in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and more.

These animals go through rigorous training so despite how cute they may be – please don’t touch when they’re on the job.

Both “therapeutic” and “animal-assisted” therapy pets have shown effectiveness with a person’s recovery. They’ve been a success for those with mental disorders, PTSD, and Alzheimer’s disease. Let’s not forget all those that provide guidance as a guide!

Combat

Dogs, pigs, and even lizards are used on the frontline with the War on Drugs. These animals are specially trained to detect the presence of drugs in hard-to-find places. Debate on their effectiveness is a hot topic but one can’t argue the effectiveness due to their intimidating presence.

Likewise, pets are used in the military. Animals have a long history of aiding us with wartime efforts:

  • German Shepherds used for direct combat
  • Dolphins used to detect submarines and mines
  • Mice used to trigger landmines and other IEDs
  • Cats used as bugging devices during espionage attempts

Many pets hold higher rankings in the military, as a way to curb abuse.

Recovery & Well-Being

Recovery efforts are often lead by dogs because they use their super senses to detect trapped individuals. We’ve seen this recently with recovery efforts during Hurricane Harvey and Irma. These furry friends also provide us with comfort during these troubling natural disasters.

Science is to the rescue, too! Our dedication to treating animals has helped us understand our own afflictions. An operation to remove cancer from dogs has helped lay the groundwork of cancer surgery in humans!

Improving the Partnership

Four-legged friends need our help. We profess our undying love to our pets but there are many that seek to cause harm or are unaware of the dangers they pose to these animals.

Over 6.5 million animals enter shelters in the United States every year – of these, 1.5 million are eventually euthanized. That’s a shame, is it not? We can change this through three actions:

  • Rescue
  • Education
  • Community

Becoming an advocate is one of the easiest but most effective things we can do to promote the well-being of our pets. The ability to educate others about breeds (e.g. pit bulls), caring, and using our time through volunteering and fostering.

There are several organizations to donate to or become a sponsor – ASPCA, PAWS, Humane Society – while local options are available, too (such as HugABull). Another way to help is to say no to irresponsible breeding by avoiding pets raised through mills.

Of course, spaying and neutering (or donating to provide funding for shelter pets) will help tremendously to prevent millions more from seeing their end on the streets or in shelters.

Friends Forever

It’s amazing how our four-legged friends have stuck with us throughout all these years. Their ability to brighten your day or help fight crime is a true testament to their loyalty.

It’ll be a wonder what else our four-legged friends will be capable of as the years go on. We just need to make sure we’re advocates for their well-being and they’ll stay by our side.

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