My Bichon Frise is one of the great loves of my life: I adopted her from a pet rescue in New Jersey 10 years ago when she was just over a year old. I’ll never forget the first time I held her, how skinny and timid she was, and how quickly we bonded with each other.
The old adage about man and dog (and woman and dog, as it is) isn’t just lore; research shows the two species have been “besties” for over 34,000 years from the time when dogs and humans began to cohabitate.
Recent research also reveals that humans experience feelings of love for their pets in ways that rival what they feel for their children and mates; what’s even more interesting is it appears the feelings are mutual. Brain scans from a study in Japan show that oxytocin, the chemical released in the brain that creates the experience of love, is stimulated in both humans and their animal companions while they gaze into each other’s eyes.
It’s logical that the popularization of science affirming the strong bond between us and our pet friends has recently contributed to a more enlightened era of pet care. Our vocabulary is a tip-off that things are changing: “homeless pets” has replaced “strays”, and the expression “pet guardian” is being used instead of “pet owner”, reflecting an important shift in consciousness.
We’ve also seen a shift away from pet stores and “kill shelters” as a result of the incredible efforts of the pet rescue and rehabilitation movement. There are over 100 animal welfare and advocacy organizations in the U.S. and the number of rescues and shelters is reported to be close to 14,000. Their work has been critical to help limit overbreeding, which we know contributes to pet homelessness, and facilitates new homes for millions of animals that otherwise would have been put down.
How we approach pet health is changing, too. There are over 5,000 vets that are members of the American Holistic Veterinary Association. These
forward-thinking veterinarians, much like functional and integrative physicians, are incorporating alternative, homeopathic, natural and complementary care into their practices, providing a much-needed alternative for animals that have run out of options under the umbrella of conventional veterinary medicine.
Putting together this issue we were overwhelmed by the depth and range of phenomenal work being done locally to improve animal health and welfare. We have profiled a select few whose work represents the broad intersection of individuals and organizations pushing the movement forward in their townships and municipalities.
As BuxMont residents, it should give us a sense of pride knowing that in our communities, creatures great and small are being regarded with humanity, respect and compassion.
Together, we are “Making the Awakening” in Bucks and Montgomery counties.
Karen G. Meshkov