(BPT) – Pets bring us joy in so many ways. But what if something changed and you weren’t able to care for your pet properly, like an illness, injury or job loss? For many people, the idea of not having their pet in their life is heartbreaking.
This scenario happens across the United States for various reasons, offering animal lovers of all kinds the opportunity to step in and make a difference.
“Pets are a necessity, a member of the family. From goldfish to dog, they help you feel more fulfilled,” said Toni Kimble, whose kindness helped keep her sick neighbor with her pets as long as possible, boosting spirits and the well-being of both animal and owner.
Kimble’s story started when she found out her neighbor, Nicki, was undergoing medical treatment and was struggling to care for her dog and two cats. She did not have family nearby to help her. After speaking with Nicki’s niece on the phone, Kimble offered to walk her dog, feed the cats and clean the litterboxes. This new routine brought her and her neighbor closer and they quickly became friends.
“Animals need care and it would have broken Nicki’s heart to remove them from the home. She still loved her animals, and they loved her. She just needed a little help so they could stay together,” said Kimble. “Those animals gave her more life and light than anything else.”
Research shows human-animal interaction is incredibly powerful. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Interacting with animals has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.”
A whopping 70% of U.S. households own a pet, according to the 2021-2022 APPA National Pet Owners Survey, which equates to about 90 million homes. Ninety-seven percent consider their pet a family member. When those owners struggle to care for these pets, it’s an opportunity to make a difference.
#BeAHelper is the first campaign of Pets and People Together – a partnership between the Ad Council, Maddie’s Fund® and the Humane Society of the United States – to encourage individuals to directly help people and pets in their communities, thereby helping to keep families together.
There are many ways you can take action to help keep pets with their people, including:
- Temporarily fostering a pet for a friend, neighbor or family member
- Donating pet food to a pantry
- Returning a lost cat or dog to their home
- Donating to the cost of veterinary care for a pet in your community
“Individuals can make a big difference. No action is too big nor too small,” said Kimble. “Knock on your neighbor’s door and see if they need assistance. Your offer can make all the difference, and you build a better community.”
For more information on how you can help keep pets and people together in your community, visit PetsAndPeopleTogether.org.