People Healing Dogs, Dogs Healing People

Animals help reduce our stress, anxiety, and suffering—and you can do the same for them, by adopting or fostering a shelter animal.

It’s no secret that animals make people feel good. And it’s also well known that dogs are specially trained and widely used by police and law-enforcement teams to help solve crimes, find drugs, and as part of search-and-rescue teams. Then, of course, there are indispensable service dogs, such as guide dogs for the blind and those with other physical or mental disorders, injuries, or conditions.

You don’t have to have a specially trained therapy dog, though, to know the healing power of animals. If you’re a pet owner, you no doubt understand how the love of an animal—as well as loving and caring for an animal—can help quell anxiety and loneliness, calm fears and worries, and generally make you feel happier.

But owning an animal is a two-way street. They need your love and care, too, and shelter animals in particular often need lots of patience. If you don’t have a pet of your own, you may want to consider adopting or fostering one, or even volunteering at a local shelter to spend a few hours caring for the animals. The love you give will be returned in spades.

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There are local shelters in towns all across Westchester and the Hudson Valley that are filled with animals who need your love and who will love you, too. The shelters themselves also need your support so that they can keep doing the selfless work they do to care for these special creatures, usually unwanted animals who’ve been abused, neglected, or abandoned by those they counted on to care for them. In some cases, owners cannot, for whatever reason, continue to care for an animal. Those pets are often reluctantly relinquished to shelters as well. Want to help yourself and help an animal, too? Consider contacting or visiting one of these—or many other—Westchester-based organizations.

There is, of course, the venerated SPCA of Westchester, a no-kill shelter located in Briarcliff Manor, which offers many dogs and cats for adoption, various ways to volunteer, and has an on-site low-cost clinic. For more information, visit www.spca914.org, email info@spca914.com, or call (914) 941-2896.

One organization we love is Adopt-a-Dog, which operates a shelter in Armonk (the corporate address is in Greenwich) and has been in business since 1981. At this rescue, you can adopt a dog (or cat), or volunteer by donating time, money, helping with fundraising, fostering an animal, and more. For info, visit www.adopt-a-dog.org, email info@adoptadog.org, or call (914) 273-1674 or (203) 629-9494.

Another wonderful organization is Pet Rescue, a small group of volunteers that fosters dogs and cats until they are adopted. The animals fostered by the volunteers come from various places and situations. Though it is not a formal shelter, it does offer many animals for adoption. For more information, visit www.ny-petrescue.org, email nypetrescue@gmail.com, or call (914) 835-3332.

We adore the selfless folks (and beautiful animals) at the Humane Society of Westchester, a No-Kill shelter and rescue which shelters 100 dogs and cats on any given day, responds to animal-related emergencies 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. For more information, please visit www.humanesocietyofwestchester.org or call (914) 632-2925.

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As with many organizations, these and other animal rescues and shelters often rely heavily on volunteers and donations. And most shelters are in need of blankets, toys, treats, cleaning products, and other donated items. The best way to find out what is needed or how to volunteer is to call the organizations directly.

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