Here’s some good news for pets in 2020 – they’re likely feeling more appreciated than ever.
Research suggests that having a pet has positive personal effects on our mental as well as physical health. According to reports from Claremont Graduate University in California, the act of cuddling a pet – in most cases likely a cat or a dog – even releases the "cuddle chemical" oxytocin in both animal and human, which creates a calming and soothing effect. Pets have also been linked to improving cardiovascular health and lowering blood pressure.
BarkBox released a study in 2016 which revealed that 71% of dog parents believe their dog has made them happier, and roughly half say their dog has made them more patient (54%), responsible (52%) or affectionate (47%). 85% are convinced that their canine companion has helped them through a challenging time in their life, and nearly four in five say it’s easier to wake up in the morning with them around.
With all this in mind, it’s little surprise that animal-assisted therapy in hospitals and schools has been soaring in popularity. In Hong Kong SAR and China, Animals Asia Foundation’s Dr Dogs scheme sends registered therapy dogs to hospitals, homes for the elderly, disability centres, orphanages and schools. For those looking to help spread some of the goodness, they also take on volunteers – both two-legged and four-legged.
Of course, if you’re thinking about getting a pet of your own, adoption offers a way to greatly improve the lives of stray and abandoned animals, and there are plenty of operations across Asia that are helping to find permanent homes or foster parents for rescue pets. In Hong Kong SAR, check out organisations like Hong Kong Dog Rescue, Kirsten’s Zoo, SPCA, Paws United, and Hong Kong Paws Foundation, while Shanghai Animal Rescue and China Rescue Dogs in China are great places to start the journey.