Adopt a Rescue Animal: It’s Good for the Heart and the Soul

| Jennifer Ryan

As summer approaches and the fresh air is calling, consider adopting a rescue dog or cat to add something new to your life.  In addition to providing an important service to the community, research shows that having a pet can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure and increase physical activity.1,2 Dog ownership has been credited with reductions in cardiovascular disease and better survival rates in the first year after a heart attack.3 One Australian study even found that dog and cat owners make fewer annual doctor visits and are less likely to be on medication for heart problems and sleeping difficulties than non-owners.4

Adopting a new pet later in life can foster feelings of renewed connectivity and purpose and also creates a need for a daily routine. Animals thrive on predictability and need exercise – taking regular walks with your dog is a great way to stay active and involved in your community. In addition, pets provide a source of unconditional love and companionship, as well as a feeling of security and protection.

Why Rescue?
Following are 5 reasons to adopt a rescue animal rather than getting a pet from a breeder:

  • Saving Lives. Adopting a rescue animal is actually saving two lives – the life of the animal you adopt and the space that opens up for another dog or cat in the shelter or rescue.
  • Cost-Effective. Getting a dog from a breeder can be expensive and often does not include vetting costs. The cost of adopting a pet usually includes the cost of spay/neutering the animal, first vaccinations and sometimes even micro-chipping.
  • Easier Training. Rescue animals tend to be slightly older and may be already house trained and less rambunctious, which can make the transition easier for both of you. Contrary to some beliefs, most animals are not surrendered because of behavior issues, rather the owner is moving away or can no longer care for the animal. Because many rescues rely on foster families to care for animals awaiting adoption, they can give potential new owners a sense of the dog’s personality and habits. And many rescue groups will take the animal back if it is not a good match.
  • Fewer Health Issues. Pure bred dogs are more likely to be predisposed to health issues such as hip dysplasia, heart defects and neurological disorders. Mixed breed dogs tend to have less inherited genetic health problems.
  • Love Like No Other. As the owner of 6-year old rescue dog, Riley Petunia, a beagle mix that was saved from a high-kill shelter in Georgia, I can say with confidence that there is no greater love than from a dog that has learned to trust again. We cannot imagine our lives without her.

Jennifer Ryan has served on the Pause 4 Paws Board of Directors since July of 2016 and became the Board President in 2017.  She works in close partnership with the Pause 4 Paws Executive Director to plan and execute fundraising events and manages the organization’s marketing and outreach efforts.

Pause 4 Paws is a non-profit animal rescue organization that fundraises on behalf of 18 direct-service rescue groups in Minnesota and a rescue in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  In addition to fundraising, Pause 4 Paws works to facilitate adoptions and promote spay/neutering throughout the animal rescue community. Since 2011, Pause 4 Paws and its beneficiary organizations have saved over 32,000 dogs and cats. Visit our website for information about how to Adopt a Pet.

1Allen, K., Shykoff, B. E., & Joseph L. Izzo, J. (2001). Pet ownership, but not ACE inhibitor therapy, blunts home blood pressure responses to mental stress. Hypertension, 38, 815-820.
2Levine,G.N. ;Allen,K.; Braun,L.T.; Christian, H.E.; Friedmann, E.;Taubert,K.A.; Thomas, S.A.; Wells, D.L.; Lange, R.A. Pet ownership and cardiovascular risk: A scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation 2013, 127, 2353–2363.
3Friedmann, E., & Thomas, S. A. (1995). Pet ownership, social support, and one-year survival after acute myocardial infarction in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression Trial (CAST). The American Journal of Cardiology, 76(17), 1213-1217.
4Health Benefits and Health Cost Savings Due to Pets: Preliminary Estimates from an Australian National Survey,

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