The Healing Power of Pets; Nursing Homes, Hospitals, and Even Prisons Are Going to the Dogs ... and Other Animals ... to Improve the Health and Moral of Patients and Inmates

By Whiteley, H. Ellen | The Saturday Evening Post, October 1986 | Go to article overview

The Healing Power of Pets; Nursing Homes, Hospitals, and Even Prisons Are Going to the Dogs ... and Other Animals ... to Improve the Health and Moral of Patients and Inmates


Whiteley, H. Ellen, The Saturday Evening Post


THE HEALING POWER OF PETS

Much has been written in the past few years about the bond between people and their pets. Pets help keep us young: They decrease loneliness, and they give us the opportunity to be needed. Pets also offer a healthier lifestyle by stimulating us to exercise while we take care of them.

Only in the past five years have health-care professionals begun to realize the power of pets to heal, both physically and psychologically. Doctors, psychologists, gerontologists, and therapists are now unleashing that pet power in homes for the elderly, in hospitals and hospices, and in prisons.

The elderly may benefit from pets the most. At a time in their lives when they have returned to dependency on others, they need to feel a sense of responsibility. Pets fulfill this need because they depend on their owners for care and attention. In return, the pets offer love and unqualified approval.

When introduced to regressed and unresponsive nursing-home patients, pets have produced spectacular results. They an brighten the lives of the better-adjusted patients as well. In 1982 a group of Cincinnati veterinarians started "Pets Helping People,' a program that provides pet visitations, with dogs carefully screened for temperament, to nursing homes. Today, "Pets Helping People' sends 83 volunteers to 20 separate institutions; other institution directors are clamoring to be added to the list. The organizers, who hope to branch out into cat visitations, are working as well on a program to maintain permanent pets in nursing homes.

News about the benefits of pets for the elderly has reached Washington, D.C., too. 12 U.S.C. 1701R allows residents in federal housing for the aged and handicapped to keep and care for pets. Landlords, however, may set guidelines for pet ownership and take into consideration the size of the pets, the amount of care they require, and the population of the building. Naturally, the rights of residents who think animals are "for the birds' must also be respected.

Elsewhere, volunteer groups have formed to help the elderly who live in their own homes. These "good scouts' offer dog-walking services, transportation to veterinary hospitals, and foster care for pets should an owner undergo hospitalization or die.

Pets can have a physical as well as a psychological effect. Although I have yet to hear a doctor say "Take one pet and call me in the morning,' such a scenario is not far-fetched, for pets have been proved to lower blood pressure and to hasten healing. The survival rates of 92 coronary patients were studied by one group of researchers, who found that within a year after hospitalization, 11 of 29 patients without pets, but only 3 of 53 who had pets, died. The physical and occupational therapy provided by caring for the pets may have been a factor in this study, but I am convinced that the healing process is physically enhanced by the sense of responsibility and self-worth felt by the pet owners.

And what works for the elderly works for children, too. Specially trained dogs visit the Children's Pavilion at Indianapolis' Methodist Hospital every Thursday to minister to ailing children. The dogs help the young patients to focus attention on getting well rather than on their illnesses.

Programs that involve animals are also being used in prisons. The animals contribute to the rehabilitation of inmates and help improve the quality of life for long-term prisoners. Like the birdman of Alcatraz, many hardened criminals soften up a bit when taking care of parakeets or goldfish in their cells or while tending goats and rabbits in the prison yard. Learning animal grooming and training enables some offenders to gain valuable job skills and to help others by training animals for use by the handicapped.

Pets may not be a cure for all that ails us, but often they are a most effective medicine. If you would like to help animals help people, check your phone book; there may already be an organization in your community. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Healing Power of Pets; Nursing Homes, Hospitals, and Even Prisons Are Going to the Dogs ... and Other Animals ... to Improve the Health and Moral of Patients and Inmates
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.