Elderly woman with cat in lap

National Therapy Animal Day

You’ve heard our motto, “We Rescue Pets to Rescue People”. What better day than today, National Therapy Animal Day to explore what that means to us, our adoptive families and our community. 

National Therapy Animal Day was created by Pet Partners (a National leader in demonstrating and promoting the health and wellness benefits of animal-assisted therapy, activities, and education) to recognize and honor therapy animals and raise awareness of the role they play in the health and well-being of humans. 

What is animal-assisted therapy and what are the benefits?

Animal assisted therapy covers a broad range of activities in which animals can provide comfort, medical assistance, or medical benefits to people. No doubt you have heard of diabetes alert dogs and guide dogs for the blind. But animals can also provide countless emotional health benefits as well!

Animals are used in hospitals, schools, and workplaces, where therapy animals can be brought in to visit patients, students, and workers. Petting and interacting with the gentle, kind animals reduce stress and anxiety and creates a calm, loving atmosphere! It’s amazing to see how a person’s mood can change when introduced to a sweet pet.  

Marla Valentine, Co-Director of Rock N’ Rescue, states “Prior to Covid, RNR was bringing kittens and therapy cats into skilled nursing facilities monthly so the residents could benefit from their therapeutic interactions with the animals. These visits were recreational as well as restorative to the residents that participated in the program. Activities such as Fishing for Kittens brought volunteers, animals and residents together to enjoy the silly antics of kittens at play, while Cuddle Time brought about calming effects while residents would reminisce about their past while cuddling a swaddled kitten.” 

Therapy animals are known to improve self-esteem, develop social skills, and lessen depression in humans. Pet therapy is great for reducing stress in everyone but is especially beneficial for residents in long term care facilities, veterans with PTSD, people with cancer, and people with autism, depression, and anxiety.  Ms. Valentine recounts, “One particular session at one of our local long term care facilities was very moving- a gentleman who had recently suffered a stroke was brought into the room with the hopes that the program would lift his spirits. He was depressed and according to staff he had not spoken for weeks. Within 10 minutes of being given a kitten to hold, this gentleman softly spoke to me- asking me the name of the kitten, followed by questions about the kitten’s age and parents. The following month this gentleman shared with me his fondness for animals growing up on a farm”.

At Rock N’ Rescue, we are very passionate about animal therapy. Unfortunately, many of our amazing therapy programs, such as Kitty Yoga, Nursing Home Kitty Therapy, and Kitty Cuddle Sessions have been put on hold during the pandemic. However, these amazing animals did not stop providing much needed assistance during these stressful times. Per Ms. Valentine, the therapeutic effects of the animals went straight to the frontlines- into the homes of individuals and families suffering from isolation, layoffs, depression, anxiety and job insecurity”. 

Emotional support animals are spotted everywhere, for good reason! News outlets all over the country noted that rescues were busier than ever during the pandemic and we can attest to that! People recognized that pets’ needs gave structure to the monotony of the days and they provided much needed love during socially distant times.

Some animals have the natural ability to become amazing therapy pets. When recognized, RNR springs into action temperament testing the animal and matching it with an individual or family in need. All RNR pets are fully vetted and tested prior to adoption. Our rescue helps families choose the right pet for lifelong comfort and support. 

By Grace Hooker & Callie Thompson