Mental Health Awareness Month, and How Animals Make a Difference

May 3, 2022
By: SPCA Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth

Most of us don’t need a scientist or a formal study to tell us that spending time with dogs and cats makes us feel better. Those big eyes and the wagging tail that greet you at the door after a stressful day can immediately help one feel calmer. Perhaps it is the companionship, or the shared activity, or even the sense of community that comes from pet ownership.  Pet owners know from experience, but research confirms that spending time with a pet can help reduce depression, anxiety, and loneliness. There is a lot of pertinent data and research being done about ways pets make our lives better.  Should you want to research this further, you can learn more by visiting the Human Animal Bond Research Institute

In recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, the SPCA Serving Erie County would like to offer a few opportunities throughout this month of May as well as some ideas to help you connect with animals and get a little oxytocin boost!

Adopt a Pet

If you’ve been thinking about adding a new furry family member to your life, there couldn’t be a better time! The SPCA Serving Erie County has a wide range of pets with different personalities to fit different lifestyles. Visit our shelter (or one of our offsite locations) today and see if your new best friend is waiting for you. As with any long-term commitment by adopting a pet you are committing to many years of companionship and care.  Currently, the SPCA Serving Erie County is offering a “Name your Own Price” special through the 21st of May.  While pets are priceless in our opinion, we want to sweeten the deal of their companionship with this promotion.  Adopting a pet can impact one’s mental healthy positively in a variety of ways.


New research is suggesting that volunteers aren’t just helping the communities they serve. People who volunteer actually experience a boost in their mental health.  There are a variety of ways to volunteer as a representative of the SPCA Serving Erie County.  You can check out the different opportunities HERE and decide what works best for you.  If cuddling kittens is considered volunteering, then sign me up!  (It actually is, BTW).


Fostering pets reduces stress and improves your mental health. Animals add so much love, joy, and satisfaction to your days that it’s much more of a reward than a demand. When a shy cat finally comes out of hiding to snuggle, or a weak kitten starts to gain weight, or a stressed-out dog relaxes and plays happily, it’s like the sun coming out from behind a cloud and brightening the day. Fostering allows for some decompression on both ends of the leash, because the humans behind this noble work benefit as much as the animals needing that precious extra time.  Knowing you’re saving a life is a boost that can’t be matched.

Almost 20% of American adults—nearly 50 million Americans currently experience mental illness, and many of them suffer in silence because of the stigmas associated with mental illness and mental disorders.  Mental health is health and deserves to be put on the forefront just like the other illnesses that are recognized throughout the year. The more it is discussed, the less stigmatized and the more normalized it becomes.  Animal welfare is profoundly compassionate, and the impact on the lives of humans in this work is great.  The SPCA Serving Erie County is proud to invest in supporting the mental health of our team, and would be honored to have a small role in improving the mental health of our shared community via the unconditional love of an animal.
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