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Emotional support animals

Samantha Gervais

Anchor Staff Writer

Photo via Helena Lopes/Pexels

Taking care of ourselves is one of the most important things for our health. Not only our physical well-being, but our mental well-being as well. Sure, there’s therapy and medication that can help those of us who suffer from depression and anxiety, and for a lot of people, it does help. For others, unfortunately, it doesn’t.

This is where our pet companions come in. “The Natural Medicine,” I’ve heard it called by a few people, since having a pet is “organic,” as opposed to adding more drugs to a regimen. For most people, having a cat or a dog, bonds form rapidly. Both animals are loyal, loving and can sense emotions at the drop of a dime. Speaking from personal experience, my two cats know when I’m anxious or when I am in pain. One cat will sleep on my leg when it’s in pain, the other will curl up next to me when my anxiety is at its worst.

What seems to be expanding though, is the variety of emotional support pet people have. I’ll give my best friend as an example. She is the inspiration as to why I write this article. She owns two guinea pigs, a conure bird, a bunny and a cat. These animals each have a special place in her heart, each quelling a specific part of her anxiety. They give her a sense of purpose and a peace of mind: Taking care of them and seeing them every morning. Once taking care of them, it’s almost like they become children, relying on their owner, but they also notice when she is in distress.

We can also tell how much of an effect animals have on our mental state due to events that places — such as RIC — have, like coming to the Quad and petting service dogs to destress. In hospitals, they are brought to sick patients to bring a smile to their day, to pet them and try to make sick people smile and destress.

As mental health crises are on the rise all over the world, it’s encouraging to see the expansion of comfort animals for different people, in the sense that more than just our furry friends are getting love.

Animals just seem to have a specific, tailored way of telling their human, “Don’t worry; I’m here. You’re okay!” Nine times out of ten, they’re always right.


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