Pittsburgh pet owners consider their pets to be part of the family.
And they are barking up the right tree, since companion animals, the new, less-derogatory term for ‘pet’ suggested by the Journal of Animal Ethics, actually have been shown to improve the quality of their caregivers’ lives.
Caring for a companion animal has been found to correlate to an extended life span in human caregivers2. The companion animal-to-human benefit is also well reciprocated. The lives of companion animals have been shown to be significantly enriched as a result of the human-animal bond3.
So how can you get in on these tail-wagging benefits even if you don’t have a companion animal?
There is new evidence suggesting that volunteering with animals can produce the same effect as care giving for a companion animal. Several studies have demonstrated a correlation between petting an animal and a decrease in stress levels in humans1.
The staff of the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania knows this phenomenon well. Comprised mostly of volunteers, the staff fosters or adopts a number of the pets that come into the shelter.
The Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania, founded by Pittsburghers in 1909, has a simple mission statement. They seek “[t]o provide temporary shelter, food, medical attention and comfort to all abandoned, neglected and injured animals brought to us by the community; to restore lost animals to their owners or seek new homes for them, and educate the public about the humane care of animals with a goal of reducing pet overpopulation,” says Ann Yeager, Marketing Director for the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania.
The Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania is a great place to patronize when seeking mood-boosting volunteer opportunities. Ann reports, “We’re always looking for foster homes for sick or injured or orphaned pets. We’re also looking for volunteers to come in and work with the dogs and cats on behavior and training issues. When we get a request to attend a special event, we seek volunteers to help out with that as well.”
The Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania opens its door to all members of the community – including those with alternative ideas for fundraising.
Yolanda Toliver, a math teacher from the Pittsburgh Public Schools, created a course in which students self-selected a service project. A group of her students decided to increase the visibility of the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania by setting up a table with balloons and information in front of the Hamilton Avenue location.
In recognition of the month of April as National Animal Cruelty Prevention Month, another group of students in a student-led volunteerism club hosted a ‘Pennies for Pooches Drive’ to benefit the Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania. The students chose pennies so that all economic classes of people would have an opportunity to participate. The students wrote and read promotional announcements, created flyers, prepared collection jugs, and counted the donations. Over 14,000 pennies were collected and the check was presented to the ARL.
If you would like to adopt, foster, volunteer, or offer fundraising ideas, contact:
Animal Rescue League of Western Pennsylvania
6620 Hamilton Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
1Baum, 1984; Friedman, 1979; Vormbrock & Grossberg, 1988.
2Friedmann, Katcher, Lynch, & Thomas, 1980; Freidmann et al., 2000.
3Deanna Kay Douglas – 3Benefits to pets from the human-animal bond: A study of pet owner behaviors and their relation to attachment, Wichita State University, 2005.
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