SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — The Clear the Shelters campaign is winding down, but there’s still time to give a forever home to a deserving animal. The effort locally includes a partnership with 9 shelters in the area that are offering discounts, waiving fees, and other adoption expenses as incentives to provide homes. Pet owners and veterinarians alike say pets add to the quality of life to many people. Janet Levine of Savannah has a service dog, Gretel, who helps her manage post traumatic stress disorder. “When I have Gretel with me, she not only grounds me personally, and decreases my panic attacks and anxiety, but she’s a great common denominator with other people and people end up talking to me, engaging me in conversation and that makes me feel wonderful and not alone and dogs can do that for you and cats can do that for you.” Levine said.
Dr. Holly Metts with the Forsythe Park Animal Hospital says the therapeutic qualities in dogs and cats are evident by the growing number of service animals in use. They’re not just for blind people anymore. ” That’s why you see so many service animals and emotional support animals, in today’s society.” Dr. Metts said. But beyond the therapy, Levine says the bond she has with her dog changed her life. “She just brings me incredible joy, incredible connection with other people, I have something to love and she loves me back. You have a sense of touch with your dog, your blood pressure goes down, it’s, the, the advantages are amazing, it’s unconditional love and I live alone and I’m not alone anymore and it’s just amazing.” Levine said.
Levine and Metts say people considering purchasing a pet should really consider visiting a shelter first. “I highly recommend rescuing over buying from breeders if you can, because we have so many animals that are homeless. So if you can rescue that is the best thing possible.” Dr. Metts said. “Shelter dogs tend to be some of the best dogs around and they’re so trainable and they’re so wanting for love, and please go to your shelter and consider adopting one.” said Levine. In 2016, the national Clear the Shelters campaign connected more than 50,000 animals with forever homes.