According to the American Pet Products Association, a 2015 survey found that 44 percent of households in the United States own a dog and 35 percent own a cat. This is up from 37 percent and 30 percent respectively in 2012.

Those who own a pet know the feeling you get when a purring cat curls up in your lap or when a dog shakes his entire body to greet you when you walk through the door. Scientists are now validating what these pet owners already knew: having a pet is good for your health.

Research has proven that pet owners have lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels; less stress, depression and loneliness than those who don’t own pets. In addition, studies show that growing up with a pet reduces your risk for allergies.

In a recent survey conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, 87 percent of men and women said that spending time with their pet helped them feel less stressed. Not only does your pet benefit from you petting him, but hanging out with a pet after experiencing something stressful reduces your levels of the hormone cortisol and possibly buffers the impact of the event, says Sandra Barker, Ph.D., director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University School of medicine.

And it’s not just cortisol that’s affected by animals. Patricia McConnell, a certified applied animal behaviorist, writes in her book For the Love of a Dog, that levels of oxytocin, a mood-affecting neurotransmitter and “feel-good” hormone in the brain, increase by simply petting a dog.

Owning a dog is also good for your physical health. “By taking your dog out for walks, you can automatically meet your exercise needs,” says Rebecca Johnson, Ph.D., who has led dog-walking and weight loss studies at the University of Missouri in Columbia.

Cats also have health-sustaining effects on their owners. A 10-year study at the University of Minnesota showed that those who owned a cat were forty-percent less likely to die from heart attacks than those who had no feline in their lives. One skill that cats possess is their ability to purr. Though cats purr when they’re happy, some also purr when they are stressed as a way to calm themselves down. Not surprisingly, a purring cat soothes their human companions in the same way.

For those who are unable to own a pet, the good news is that the mere presence of an animal without any interaction can have some calming effects. Buy a bird feeder and become a backyard bird watcher. Visit your local park and observe wildlife. Even turning on a nature show on television can have a calming effect.

Despite all these benefits, potential pet owners should consider more than their mental and physical health before adopting a pet. People should acquire a pet because they want the lifelong relationship; the added bonus is the physical and mental health benefits that come along with it. Pet ownership shouldn’t be entered into lightly as it is a big responsibility.

Once you are ready for a pet, visit to find your local animal shelter or rescue group and adopt rather than shop for a pet. There are literally millions of homeless pets just waiting for the right person to come along. Stop by an animal shelter today and improve the life of a homeless pet as well as your own.

Free Cats Coming to Santa Barbara County

ASAP, the nonprofit organization which cares for the cats at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter in Goleta, is delighted to announce that FREE CATS will be available at SIX locations throughout Santa Barbara County during the 6th annual free adoption weekend.

For the 6th year of offering the free adoption weekend, ASAP will be joined by the Santa Barbara County Animal Services’ other two shelters, in Lompoc and Santa Maria, as well as the Santa Maria Valley and Santa Ynez Valley Humane Societies. This will provide potential adopters with five different shelters from which to choose a new feline companion, plus a special offsite adoption station, at locations including Goleta, Santa Maria, Lompoc and Buellton.

The theme this year plays off of the ever-popular iPhone app slogan: “There’s a cat for that: Download for FREE!” Need a bug hunter? There’s a cat for that. A napster, chick magnet, foot warmer? There’s a cat for that, too! Download for FREE! With five shelters offering cats, adopters will literally have hundreds of feline varieties to choose from! Indeed, there is sure to be a cat for every type of preferred app!

The special adoption weekend, to be held on Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14 waives the regular adoption fee (usually around $75) and offers adult cats to qualified adopters – absolutely FREE, except for a lifetime commitment to provide love and care to a healthy, adoptable shelter cat. Potential adopters must still complete an application and be screened, but will benefit from the fee-waived promotion and the support of four shelters geared to help with a smooth transition to new cat ownership. And if an adopter just can’t resist the newer models, kittens will also be available at the discounted price of two-for-one!

Launched by ASAP in 2010, the annual free adoption weekend reaches out to the community with the excitement of an innovative media campaign, resulting in a surge of adoptions. Each year since its inception, some 75-85 cats have found new homes in a single weekend as a result—with the event in 2015 topping 101 adoption countywide! This is particularly important in late summer, when cat populations in shelters traditionally peak, as kittens fill shelter cages and adult cats often get overlooked. ASAP’s current adult cat population of over 200 cats and kittens is mirrored by high numbers at the other two municipal shelters. The two humane societies in Santa Maria and Buellton also find themselves with kittens as well as a high number of adults, and looks to the free weekend to adopt long term residents and help open up spaces for new cats in need of rescue. With cats and kittens still arriving daily at all shelters, the need to find adoptive homes is critical!!

Participating shelter locations, Free Adoption Event hours and contact information are below:


5473 Overpass Road, Goleta, 805-683-3368

Saturday, August 13, 10am-4pm and Sunday, August 14, 10am-2pm

La Paws (Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, Lompoc)

1501 W. Central Ave, Lompoc, 805-737-7755

Saturday, August 13, 10am-3:30pm

Santa Maria Animal Center (Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, Santa Maria)

548 W. Foster Rd, Santa Maria, 805-934-6119

Saturday, August 13, 10am-3:30pm and Sunday, August 14, 10am-2pm

Santa Maria Valley Humane Society

1687 W. Stowell Rd, Santa Maria, 805-349-3435

Saturday, August 13, 10am-4pm

Santa Ynez Valley Humane Society

111 Commerce St. Buellton, 805-688-8224

Saturday, August 13, 10am-4pm

Special Offsite Adoption Station

Tractor Supply Co, 221 E. Hwy 246, Buellton, 805-688-8224

Saturday, August 13, 10am-2pm

For more information, please call 805-794-9574 or email; for information about each participating shelter, please call the number associated with that shelter above.


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