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How pets can impact children’s mental health

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Not everyone thinks of pets as a resource to help people with reading, emotional wellness and mental health. The power of pets on children’s mental health may surprise some.

Pets can also be used not only as a source for comfort, but by those without significant health challenges. A recent study found that people who owned animals were just as close to key people in their lives as to their pets, according to the American Psychological Association.

PAWS for People Executive Director Lynne Robinson works with people of all ages, including children to provide therapeutic visits for those in need. Robinson said her animals have a profound impact on children. “One of my favorite stories has to do with an 11-year-old boy,” Robinson recalls. “When he read to me there was a stutter.” After the boy sat with a therapy dog there was no stutter.

“Because of the dog’s unconditional love and support, the boy’s fears washed away and he could read,” Robinson remembered.

Robinson believes the animals play a significant role in children’s mental health to get them the help they need. “Whether it’s a reading, mental health or emotional wellness situation, if a person is more relaxed then the therapy can happen,” Robinson says. “It only takes a minute for that bond to be made. And that’s when the therapy can begin.”

Pets can also be a crucial aspect of helping children as companions through disasters and other life events.

Watch how Robinson and her animals provide therapy to those in need.