Megan and her husband, Phil, will be attending the annual Embrace A Vet Barn Party this weekend to support their Paws for Peace program, which pairs pre-screened shelter dogs with Maine veterans living with PTSD or traumatic brain injuries. In honor of this remarkable and much-needed program, the Hodgkins Law team wanted to post a few details about emotional support and service animals and how they enrich the lives of their owners.
One of the main components of the Paws for Peace program is that the owner and dog train together towards certification of the dog as a service animal. In order to be characterized as a service or emotional support animal, documentation from a health professional must be obtained. This necessary process provides a rewarding framework for both the owner and the pet to get acquainted early on.
Support Animals and Physical Health
These trained animals can provide their owners with a reason for getting out and staying active. Exercise is a much-needed part of a healthy lifestyle; it can also improve mobility and sharpen the mind. The American Heart Association has even stated that people with heart disease who own a dog outlive those who do not!
Support Animals and Mental Health
One of the most important aspects of emotional support and service animals is their help in reducing stress and anxiety. Studies show that animals can reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, and increase serotonin, which is tied to happiness and well-being. Major triggers for depression are loneliness and isolation and, with an emotional support animal, many people often find companionship and friendship that helps them to cope with that solitude. Owning a pet can also provide much needed mental stimulation.
Service animals have proven to be of great service to people with disabilities over the years – in fact, dogs began being trained after World War I to aid those who lost their sight. In 1929, Morris Frank and Dorothy Harrison Eustis were instrumental in founding The Seeing Eye, the oldest existing guide dog school in the world, in Nashville, Tenn., and the term “seeing eye dog” was thrust into modern parlance. Although the formalization of pets for emotional support is a more recent phenomena, the benefits of animal companionship have been known for generations, and numerous studies are now proving it.
The team at Hodgkins Law believes that pets are an integral part of any family. We’ve worked with many clients to develop pet trusts so they are taken care of in the event of their owner’s death or incapacity. Click on our links to learn more about our pet care planning, or sign up for a free seminar.
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