Reduce stress, adopt shelter cat or dog to pet

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Keep petting your furry friends, Tampa Bay. A new study says that petting dogs and cats in real situations can lower stress levels.

Researchers at Washington State University say interacting with animals can decrease stress in humans, according to newly-released data.

The study — which is said to be the first to demonstrate lowered cortisol levels in a realistic scenario instead of a laboratory — consisted of 249 college students who were separated into four groups. 

The first group was able to play with and pet cats and dogs for 10 minutes. The second group observed other people playing with animals while they waited in line to interact with the animals.

The third group watched a slideshow of the same animals and the final group was “wait-listed” meaning they quietly waited for 10 minutes to interact with the animals, without their phones or other stimuli.

Several salivary cortisol samples were collected from each participant throughout the day of the experiment.

The study found that students who interacted directly with the pets showed significantly less cortisol in their saliva after the interaction.

Cortisol — which is a steroid hormone that regulates various processes in the body, such as metabolism and the immune response — is key in dealing with stress.

Associate professor at WSU’s Department of Human Development, Patricia Pendry, along with WSU graduate student Jaymie Vandagriff, published the research in AERA Open, an open-access journal published by the American Educational Research Association.

In Tampa Bay, the University of South Florida has periodic “paws and relax” events where they invite dogs and other animals to come and get some attention while students on campus can find some stress relief by petting a furry friend.

The Center for Student Wellness at USF holds the two-hour-long events during the last weeks of the semester, when students may be at their most stressed.

Remember, thousands of pets are looking for their forever homes and News Channel 8 is On Your Side helping to make that happen in the Tampa Bay area.

We are teaming up with hundreds of shelters across the country to host Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive on Saturday, August 17, 2019, to help find loving homes for animals in need. For more information click here.

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Clear The Shelters

Shelters near you


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) - Thousands of pets are looking for their forever homes and News Channel 8 is On Your Side helping to make that happen in the Tampa Bay area.

We are teaming up with hundreds of shelters across the country to host Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive from Aug. 1 through Aug. 31, featuring virtual pet adoptions to make it easy for people to donate online to participating shelters and rescues.

More than 150,000 pets found their forever homes since 2015 and we want to add to the number.

Find a shelter near you:

  • Pasco County Animal Services, 19640 Dogpatch Lane, Land O'Lakes
  • Paw Warriors, Inc., 355 Spring Time Street, Spring Hill
  • Pinellas County Animal Services, 12450 Ulmerton Road, Largo
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc, 1231 Bruce B. Downs Blvd, Wesley Chapel
  • Cat Haven Rescue, Inc - Pasco, 8529 Little Road, New Port Richey
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Bishop Animal Shelter SPCA of Manatee County, 5718 21st Ave West, Bradenton
  • Hernando County Animal Services, 19450 Oliver Street, Brooksville
  • SPCA Florida, 5850 Brannen Rd S, Lakeland
  • Barking Out Loud Rescues, Inc, 300 N Lake Drive, Lorida
  • Precious Paws Rescue, Inc., Citrus County Florida, 5164 S. Florida Avenue, Inverness
  • Humane Society of Pinellas, 3040 State Road 590, Clearwater
  • Hernando County SPCA, 9075 Grant St, Brooksville
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • Humane Society of Tampa Bay, 3607 N Armenia Avenue, Tampa
  • Rebels Rescue, Petco 136 S. West shore Blvd, Tampa
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Friends of Strays Animal Shelter, 2911 47th Avenue North, St. Petersburg
  • Florida English Bulldog Rescue, P.O. Box 754, Odessa
  • The Humane Society of Polk County, Inc, 3195 Dundee Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Humane Society of Sarasota County, 2331 15th Street, Sarasota
  • Hands Helping Paws Rescue Inc., 53 W Bay Blvd S, Lake Wales
  • Humane Society of Manatee County, 2515 14th Avenue W, Bradenton
  • Highlands County Sheriffs Animal Services, 7300 Haywood Taylor Blvd, Sebring
  • Manatee County Animal Services, 305 25th St W, Palmetto
  • SPCA Suncoast, 7734 Congress Street, New Port Richey
  • Citrus County Animal Services, 4030 S. Airport Rd, Inverness
  • St Francis Society, PO Box 261614, Tampa
  • FLUFF Animal Rescue, 9400 SEMINOLE BOULEVARD, SEMINOLE
  • SPCA Tampa Bay, 9099 130th Ave N, Largo
  • Polk County Sheriff's Office Animal Control, 7115 De Castro Rd, Winter Haven
  • The Greener Side Haven, Inc., 3892 N Lecanto Hwy, Beverly Hills
  • Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch, 26920 Gopher Hill Road, Myakka City

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