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Why Adopting a Dog Can Save Two Lives

Why Adopting a Dog Can Save Two Lives

By Mary-Jane Gallagher

Screen Shot 2018-11-26 at 11.37.56 AMThere are almost 10 million dogs in South Africa and a whopping one-third of South Africans have been diagnosed with mental health issues. Two seemingly unrelated statistics that can actually work together to save lives. It has already been established that having a dog can improve a person’s health in more ways than one. With this in mind, pairing people with mental health diagnoses with dogs not only helps these people overcome their issues and hopefully recover to some extent, but it also gives these wonderful animals a shot at living better lives.

Why a dog?

One of the biggest benefits of having a dog is how it can do wonders for your mental health. Dogs and humans have been companions for thousands of years and as such, dogs have evolved to interpret not just words, but also body language. This means that dogs, to a certain degree, can help provide a positive atmosphere for someone who is experiencing mental health issues. An extensive review of multiple studies on mental health conducted by the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester, and Southampton, have concluded that dogs and pets, in general, have a positive effect on someone’s health. Some of the responses revolved around how caring or a dog/pet influenced a person’s lifestyle changes in order to accommodate their pet’s needs; another dealt with how dogs being affectionate helped put people at ease, and another response was how having a pet and addressing their needs has helped people avoid engaging in self-destructive behavior..

Why adopt?

While adopting can be a bit of a tedious process, it contributes greatly to decreasing cases of dog euthanasia and discourages illegal breeding which could lead to more animals getting abandoned or going through sub-par living conditions. In addition to saving and somehow controlling the South African dog population and lightening the load of the numerous shelters scattered throughout the country, adopting a dog is actually less of a headache in the long run for a person who is already dealing with personal issues. Getting a dog from a shelter or a foster home means that the people running these facilities can recommend the right dog for someone based on their circumstances, leading to a better fit that won’t cause any extra stress to the person and making sure that the dog goes into a home that won’t abandon it in the future. Shelter and foster dogs are also less worrisome to care for because they have most likely been treated for any treatable medical concerns, have updated shots, and most importantly, have already been spayed or neutered.

Experience a special kind of love

The best part about adopting though would have to be getting a dog that has already been accustomed to having positive experiences with humans. This means a dog that will truly love their new owners because they themselves have been well loved by their past caretakers. Our shared evolution has made dogs the perfect companions or humans. With more emphasis being put on addressing mental health and addressing animal rights, partnering dogs with people diagnosed with mental health concerns will be mutually beneficial for both parties.