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Furry Friends

Q & A with Idaho Falls Animal Shelter

Published online: Feb 02, 2024 Health & Wellness
Viewed 976 time(s)

Companionship is one of the most important things that we as humans need. Whether it’s friends, family, neighbors or a beloved pet, keeping good company is important for our mental wellbeing. 

We sat down with Carissa Hernandez, Special Programs Coordinator with the Idaho Falls Animal Shelter, to discuss the benefits of having the companionship of animals. Read the benefits below. 

IFM: What are the health benefits of owning a pet?

CH: Companionship is the biggest thing. Companionship is amazing for mental health.

It helps improve your day-to-day happiness and increases your energy and activity levels. We all want to come home and have someone or something to be close to and in the world of animals, when they’re young, they should never be kept alone because of their need for companionship and for physical touch and attachment. It boosts their health and animals that are left alone have a tendency to decline. So I can only imagine it’s the same for people. 

We definitely have an innate need to have someone or something to connect to. Especially at the end of the day when you come home and it's been chaotic, you get to sit down with a friend that understands you and knows you super well, and you get to cuddle and be loved or chosen by that animal. I think that's really, really helpful.

IFM: Who would you encourage to adopt a pet?

CH: If you don’t have a pet, you should get a pet. 

 If you have the time and space in your life for a pet, there's no reason not to. Whether it be a cat or a dog, if you don't have a lot of time to do a lot of outdoor activities or if you don't have a yard, cats are wonderful friends. They'll sit and watch television with you and they're pretty independent. And if you have a higher level of activity and you spend time outdoors, get yourself a dog and have a hiking companion. If your friends don't wanna go, I bet your dog does. 

There's plenty of couch potato dogs out there that would absolutely love to sit around and do nothing with you all day long. I would encourage anyone who doesn't have a pet, but feels like they have a little hole in their heart, or feel like they're lacking something at home. 

IFM: How has having a pet personally impacted your life?

CH: I don't know what I would do without them. I personally don’t have children and I feel like my calling was to help animals but in turn through helping them, I think it has helped me immensely. I feel like I have a purpose. I have some days where I'm not working or I get home from work and all I want to do is just become a couch potato and I can't because I have so many animals at home that are depending on me. It’s rewarding when I have a kitten that's been sick jump in my lap when she's feeling better and I get to give her little scratches and she's super affectionate.

There's just this good wholesome feeling that all of the animals in my world bring into my life. I'm very fortunate to work where I do. I get to bring animals up to my desk that need socialization and for me, I'm taking care of the animals, but I'm also gaining this quiet companionship at all times with them. So I get to reach down and pet them when I'm feeling stressed or overwhelmed and it certainly seems to help with anxiety a lot.

IFM: What advice would you give to a new pet owner?

CH: If you're adopting a pet or you're buying a pet, there is a very big adjustment period that not a lot of people think about. They think, ‘I'm gonna bring a cat or a dog home and it's gonna be great.’ And then when the cat or dog doesn't fit in immediately, or seems a little bit stressed or anxious, or destructive, or it's hiding under the bed too much or whatever it may be, there's a pretty big window of adjustment that you need to allow your animal to have when it enters your home, and it can take upwards of six months.

That animal really gets to feel like I'm actually home versus I'm just staying at another place again. It takes a long time for them to truly adjust and feel comfortable. We don't get to see the best of them until at least a few months have gone by and they've gotten comfortable in that home. 


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