Helping elderly people and their pets is not only the right thing to do, but it can also reduce health care costs and save lives says The Humane Society of Canada (HSC).
Al Hickey, HSC Western Regional Director., a senior himself says that for the elderly, pets can be a great source of comfort and joy. Walking a dog or just caring for a pet, for those who are able, can provide exercise and companionship. And each year, in Canada, thousands of animals in Canada are killed because there are simply not enough good homes. This kind of health care initiative would save the lives of people and animals.
The Humane Society of Canada is asking all levels of government to consider granting each senior citizen an annual tax credit of $750 a year which is roughly half of the estimated $1,500 a year cost of providing food and veterinary care for a dog or a cat. The charity estimates that based on the latest census data showing that 12.8% of Canada’s population is 65 years of age and older (i.e. 3,917,875 seniors) that the total tax credits each year would be in the region of $2.94 billion dollars (i.e. $2,938,406,250). There could be a gradual phase in and although there will be an initial cost, the charity believes that with time, overall health care costs would not only reduce, but it would result in a healthier, happy and more productive society.
Some health benefits for people who live with pets include:
* people with pets are less likely to be lonely
* people with pets visit the doctor less often and use less medication
* people with pets recover more quickly from illness
* people with pets, on average, have lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure
* people who live with pets and who have suffered a heart attack survive longer than those who don’t have a pet in their life
* Alzheimer’s patients with pets have fewer anxious outbursts
* exercising a pet can provide valuable exercise to the animal’s elderly guardian
* people who are vulnerable to depression or anxiety suffer less if they live with a pet.