Pets extend life

Aprill 11,  2002

More medical test results say that one easy way to improve your health and life expectancy is to get a pet. Health professionals say owning a pet will help you live a longer, healthier life.

Rosalind Leavens and her dog 'Lady' have a special bond. When she moved from Valdosta to the Hudson Malone Towers in Albany, she had to give away most of her pets. But 13-year-old Lady was too special a pet to leave behind.

"She's like a child to me, sleeps in the bed with me, eats with me," Leavens said. Rosalind is one of those people who can't really explain why, but her pet helps her feel better.

Doctors and health professional agree. Study after study finds pet owners living longer, healthier lives. In Albany, both hospitals, hospice, and nursing homes all welcome the Paws Patrol to visit their patients.

The Paws Patrol is a group of volunteers from the Albany Humane Society, whose animals visit groups from cancer therapy to the A.R.C. clients, spreading their special medicine.

Paws Patrol Coordinator Marty Harris said, "It's that special human, animal bond, that goes both ways."

It may just be a head to rub and a cold lick, but there is no doubt that touching a pet can lower stress levels, calming and relieving peoples anxieties.

Veterinarians see the benefit of pet ownership everyday. They have seen cases of depression set in, especially with the elderly, when their pet is lost.

People have kept pets for thousands of years, and medical professionals still endorse them today as part of a healthy lifestyle. Rosalind Leavens says she just knows loves her Lady, and feels better with her close by.