Student opinion on the “positive” mental and physical benefits of pet ownership and “checking out” shelter animals

Sarah Mountain

Staff Writer

The Pike County Animal Shelter is a great place for students to find a pet to conquer the first part of adulthood by “checking-out” rescued animals. 

For students looking to provide an animal with a forever home, the shelter has extremely low prices on the adoption of animals. But for those not ready to commit to being a pet parent full time, the shelter also has a program where students can “check-out” rescue animals and take them out and about for the day.

What students may not realize is, as much of a difference as you are making in these animals’ lives, they are having a big impact on your life, as well. Many studies show owning a pet can ease various problems adults of our age commonly have. 

Unhealthy weight gain is a huge problem facing young adults, especially in college students. Getting a pet that requires outside time can be a great way to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.

According to the American Heart Association, increased exercise leads to a healthier heart and a longer lifespan — having a puppy to play with can actually make you live longer.

Increasing your daily exercise can also help reduce depression by boosting serotonin production. 

Stress is likely the most common problem college students face universally. Stress can often lead to depression and anxiety which studies have shown owning a pet can help with. 

Studies have shown oxytocin will be released when you are petting or cuddling your pet, which cuts down on your and the pet’s levels of stress. 

Not to mention, owning a pet can make you more social – think about it: when was the last time you didn’t stop to pet someone’s dog and accidentally get into a conversation? As a generation whose social skills lack in face-to-face contact, this can make a big different. 

Increasing social interactions can also lead to the lowering of isolation, anxiety and depression. According to the Mental Health Foundation, people with more relationships and friends are less likely to run into mental health issues.

Of course, this isn’t a suggestion that getting a pet is a cure-all for college students, but with the easy availability of getting to take a dog out just for a day, maybe it is an idea to consider during the most trying times of college. 

While no one should adopt a pet without the means to properly take care of it, there are ways you and an animal can both benefit – such as the option to check-out a dog or cat for the day.  

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