For most of us, a four legged friend is a great companion to come home to, pet, someone to go running with, and give attention. And who doesn’t love the dog licking us or cat playfully biting our ankles as we walk by? For those that had an animal growing up, I’m sure you have a couple of fun stories about feeding them your veggies under the dinner table.

So, what can a pet do for you? Why is adopting a pet so important and how can it really improve the quality of your life? Sadly, during the recession, so many people can’t continue to have pets due to the big financial responsibility they are. Because so many animals are put in the local shelters, there are so many more good reasons for those able to adopt a pet to adopt.

I know what some of you are probably thinking. An animal is a big responsibility. And they are a big responsibility. They cost a lot of money- vet visits, pet supplies, and food just to name a few. Pets, especially dogs, also require a lot of attention. However, for those that own animals, they know that the time, energy, love, and money that are put into the care of animals are definitely worth it.

For starters, it’s been proven that pets can improve our quality of life dramatically by lowering blood pressure and stress levels. There have also been many instances where an untrained animal was able to detect some deadly illnesses like cancerous lumps that were not found previously. A trained animal is especially good to have around if you have a serious medical condition, like epilepsy.

Personally, when I am feeling low or if I just have a bad day, having an animal around is good for improving my mood. I am sure every other pet owner can attest to this. While some anti- pet people out there would say that having a pet around is a bad idea because humans need something to control (yes, I’ve unfortunately heard this argument before). I would say that is just not the case for most pet owners. Having a pet around me is not about controlling something, but for me, it is about having the unconditional love and playfulness that a pet will give you.

The unconditional love of a pet is a great thing for those that have suffered from many abusive situations. Whether or not it’s true, perhaps you heard of how Jaycee Dugard and her daughters had ‘horse therapy’ to help her cope with her new situation. What is certain, though, is that animals are great for emotional support. Animals are also great for other kinds of therapy; for example, as a treatment for aspergers’ syndrome.

Having a pet doesn’t have to be limited to smaller animals for novices. Horses can be a good past time for those interested in larger animals. Owning a horse may seem intimidating, but stables offer a place to house them and can even teach you how to take care of them. Horses are great for riding, getting around on, and competitions of all sorts. The best part is, depending on where you live, horses can be available to those just looking for riding lessons and not having to deal with the hassles of owning one.

Animals are great to have around your house for other reasons as well. If you have children, having a pet around can be a good way to help them develop. Kids will learn how to interact with animals, and in some circumstances, learn social skills from them. This may sound kind of strange, but this behavior is called modeling. It has been proven that those children who are good around pets are good around people as well- on the flip side, an early warning sign for violent behavior in children is animal abuse.

Kids can also develop a sense of fulfillment and responsibility from having a pet. To give you another example from my life, I grew up in a small town and 4H was a group kids often joined. In the 4H competitions, my fellow classmates often brought in the animals they helped raise and some even won prizes- much to my envy. Even if you don’t live in a small town, check out any local 4H competitions you might have in your town or city and see how some of the kids feel about their animals. You may just be surprised.

Having a pet doesn’t have to require a big reason though. A dog can also just be a great motivation to get outside and go running around the block with, a cat can be a good snuggling companion while watching TV, and a bird can provide a good tune.

Whatever you end up deciding is a good reason to adopt an animal as your pet, I hope you check out your local shelter. There are many good animals out there looking for a second chance to love someone new.

I wrote this article because I have a strong passion for animals and animal rights. If you have any general questions on how a pet can improve your life, feel free to contact me. Or you can tell me about the wonderful pet you’ve already adopted and how it’s changed your life. I look forward to hearing from you.