Rescuing Shelter Pets

There is an abundance of homeless shelter pets throughout the entire country. Kathy Mordini is passionate about saving homeless animals.  Her ChicagoNow blog, Raining Cats and Dogs, advocates rescuing these animals and giving them a second chance.   She also connects with businesses in the Chicago area which support animal rescue. Our family knows quite well the positive effects of saving a homeless pet.

My son had a visit from a shelter therapy dog while he was hospitalized recovering from brain surgery; this visit was the turning point to his recovery.   Mordini also blogged about our experience and I wanted to share her post with you.  You can follow all her posts at Raining Cats and Dogs.

Shelter Me: Better than therapy for Chicago family

by Raining Cats and Dogs

There’s a wonderful documentary making the rounds on PBS this spring called Shelter Me. It is the second installment in a series of documentaries by Steven Latham that looks at dogs rescued from open admission shelters and their lives after rescue.

This is more than case of them just becoming pets – they are service dogs, therapy dogs, search and rescue dogs and more. These dogs have gone from death row to having more than a home – they’re giving back to others.

I’ve not been able to see this year’s version of Shelter Me yet. However, I’m very excited to check it out when I get the chance. This is not just because it focuses on rescue animals and therapy pets but because of its ChicagoNow connection. Nancy Chodash – who blogs as Nancy’s World – and her son are part of the story of rescue dogs at UCLA medical Center.

“My son was going to college in California and they found out he had a brain tumor,” says Chodash. “Last year, we flew out to be with him for his surgery on Halloween. After he made it through surgery, he had seizure and was just so depressed.”

Steven Latham the producer of Shelter Me with his own dogs

That was until the day he saw a dog wandering through the ICU. It came by the door to his room, but didn’t come in. When she went to visit him later in the day, he excitedly told her about the dog.

“My son has always loved dogs and we’ve just never had a pet dog,” says Chodash (She also blogged about the experience.) “When the dog came by and didn’t come in, it was almost torture for him. It became my mission to find out about the dogs in the hospital and have them visit my son.”

She did her digging and was connected with Steve Latham who told her that they were filming the Shelter Me documentary on their next visit. A dog could visit Jake, but they needed approval to film and include them in the documentary. Her son readily agreed.

The Chodash family with Finn the rescued Therapy Dog on “Shelter Me.”

“When they came to the hospital, they had this enormous dog – Finn. He’s a lab/great Pyrenees mix and just huge,” says Chodash. “He climbed on the bed with Jake and it not only made his day, it changed his whole recovery. After the visit, he was no longer depressed and really moved into the positive frame of mind he needed to have.”

Chodash works in the health care field as a Nurse Practioner. She’s not only an animal lover, she’s well aware of the positive effects animals have on people. Pets help lower blood pressure and people’s heart rate. This extends beyond therapy pets to your own pet or pets.

For many years, various studies have weighed in on the health benefits of having a pet in the family. Various studies have noted that a person’s heart rate decreases and cardiovascular health improves thanks to the love of a pet. On Thursday, the American Heart Association weighed in with its own study.

“We didn’t want to make this too strong a statement,” says Dr. Glenn N. Levine, a professor from Baylor’s College of Medicine and the head of the committee on the report.  “But, there are plausible psychological, sociological, and physiological reasons to believe that pet ownership might actually have a causal role in decreasing cardiac risk.”

One of the few randomized controlled studies included in the report looked at 48 stressed stockbrokers with hypertension. They all were put on medication to control their blood pressure and then divided into groups with one group told to adopt a cat or dog.

The study found that when those that adopted pets were around their new furry friends they were “markedly calmer in the face of stressful events than the stockbrokers without pets.” Research has shown there is a sharp contrast between those that walk their own dogs and those that don’t.

The second episode of Shelter Me is on various PBS outlets in May

Which is very much what the Chodash family discovered thanks the filming of Shelter Me. Jake has since recovered and is now in his second year of law school. After seeing the healing power of the therapy dog at the hospital, his doctor, parents and landlord have all given him the green light to get his own personal therapy pet.

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    Nancy Chodash

    I am a nurse practitioner who not only treats patients, but has had chronic illnesses including cancer so I understand how frustrating medicine can be. But through all this, I have never lost my sense of humor and my ability to make people laugh. I love to cook, and since becoming gluten-free a year ago, I have recipes for everyone's tastes whether it be healthy, decadent, vegetarian, or gluten-free. My philosophy is all about health, food, laughter and life!

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