Hearts United…The Unconditional Love of Pets
Ronda Rex, Campbell Co., KY. One of the needs of Campbell County according to the Community Needs Assessment 2018 is mental health awareness and support to combat mental health issues, anxiety, stress, loneliness, worry, and depression was one of the most pressing needs. Since the onset of COVID19, this need has become an even more pressing need.
To help people become more aware of how pets can assist in better mental health and wellbeing, Ronda Rex, Campbell County Agent for Family & Consumer Sciences Education, created a program called “Hearts United…The Unconditional Love of Pets.” This program not only focuses on the human-animal bond and responsible pet ownership, but it has also allowed the Campbell County Cooperative Extension Service’s Office staff to experience a new program to help with more positive employee/staff interactions and bonding in the workplace. Pets are “natural convenors” and bring people together in very positive ways. According to PetPartners.org, “unfortunately, universities are latecomers in taking notice of the potential of this field of Therapy Animal Work.” “Research also shows that animals in the workplace often lead to more productive coworker interaction, increased trust levels between colleagues, and more effective collaboration.” (https://petpartners.org/workplace-well-being/ )