Mr. Rogers was incredibly wise. He imagined every neighborhood as a space where grow in connection by giving and receiving kindness and care:
"Whether we're giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That's one of the things that connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver."
Did you know that animals are also our neighbors—just like other humans? In fact, we share the Earth with over 8.7 million different animal species!
And, it turns out that kindness to animals isn't just good for its own sake—it makes the "neighborhood" of planet Earth better for everyone. Discover why kindness to animals is so important—for all of us!
Kindness to Animals Creates Better Physical Health
Kindness to animals improves both human physical health and animal health. The American Heart Association advocates engaging with animals because it improves cardiovascular health.
According to the AHA, interacting kindly with animals often reduces blood pressure, decreases the percentage of lipids in the blood, and improves autonomic function. That's how your body conducts involuntary processes, like breathing.
Moreover, people who play with animals are more physically active. There are plenty of fun ways to play with animals. Run with a pony, engage a chicken with a food-teather toy, or try some goat yoga!
A healthier body is a great reason for kindness.
Kindness Improves Mental Wellbeing
Kind and affectionate interaction with animals has a positive impact on humans' mental health.
Studies during the Covid-19 pandemic found that, during the lockdown, people who had kind interactions with animals every day had greater psychological resilience to stress and depression.
Studies have also researched the benefits of animals trained for therapy.
Therapy animals can help people relax, decreases a sense of overwhelm or overstimulation, and reduce the severity of mental illness symptoms. This often includes symptoms of:
Autism spectrum disorders
Can we get these same benefits from treating other types of animals kindly? Yes!
Short, positive interactions with calm, friendly animals can change our bodies' endocrine and nervous system responses.
These response changes have even been shown to decrease a patient's pain level in the ER. Patients with serious injuries felt less pain after only ten minutes of petting an animal.
Kindness Makes Communities Stronger
Kindness to animals also improves the health of an entire community.
Animals-inclusive communities are a viable public health strategy. When we regularly work to improve the health and well-being of animals in our neighborhood, human health improves too.
This is the basis of the "One Health" strategy. Treating our animals with kindness keeps them safe from infections, which means we're less likely to catch illnesses from them.
The One Health strategy emphasizes pet care, livestock care, and care for the environment.
Positive play and practicing kind treatment of dogs also improves young children's social and emotional health. It's easy to teach kids to be kind to the dog in their homes.
This empowers kids to grow up to be good social problem solvers. Then, they're less likely to engage in violence or aggression. This, in turn, improves our relationships, which makes our communities stronger.
We Are All Connected
Ultimately, kindness to animals is part of being a good neighbor. On planet Earth, there's a lot we can do to take care of each other. Taking care of animals is one important way we can improve our physical health, mental health, and community relationships.
One great way to jumpstart kindness? Visit the Rooterville Animal Sanctuary! Why not start planning your trip today?