Pets and Their People

Published 2:42 pm Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Students from Lincoln Memorial University (LMU) have set out to prove one highly speculated theory: a pet’s health has a direct correlation to that of its owner’s.

Lincoln Memorial University-College of Veterinary Medicine (LMU-CVM) and physician assistant students from the LMU-DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine hosted ‘Pets and Their People’ at the Middlesboro Mall on Saturday, providing free health screening for both people and their furry friends.

The program — although highly beneficial for the dozens of pets which were brought in for checkups — was put together by the students and funded by the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative in order to gather information pertaining to the shared health and behaviors of people and their pets, with the premise of the study being that these behaviors are shared.

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While the research did support their claim (if a person takes care of their own health they are more likely to take care of their pet’s health as well), the experiment also revealed another important aspect of the study: the level of attachment the owner has to their pet.

“As far as their health characteristics and behaviors go, it appears to be much stronger if there is more of a pet attachment than if their pet attachment is, maybe, not quite as strong,” said Doctor Charles Faulkner of LMU.

The screening brought in various breeds and types pets to the mall, including two African Rhodesian Ridgebacks, McKenna and Imani, owned by Bell County resident Luis Jimenez.

Although often noted to spend their time in the wild hunting and keeping lions at bay, these cuddly canines appeared to be extremely calm and lovable due to Jimenez’s patience and love for the breed.

Jimenez, along with several others who made a visit to the screening, provided a clear representation of the special love and bond humans and animals can develop towards each other. While some may see their pets simply as “dumb animals,” others view them as a special part of their family.

Although the primary objective of the project was to gather research information, the free health screening provided several pet owners in the area with a sigh of relief. Checking into the status of their pet’s health is a high priority for many owners, however, the often costly expense of taking them to a veterinarian makes this need almost impossible for the majority to keep up with.

While many are eager to speak out about the issue of overpriced health care, some forget that it is also an overly extravagant expense to keep up with a pet’s health needs as well. Free screening such as this one, regardless of the ultimate goal, are greatly encouraged by all animal lovers, especially with the economy in the state it’s currently in.

“I think it’s really neat to have the opportunity in our community to not only be involved in research, but also to provide a way for people to bring their pets out and see how healthy they are and what they may need to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said Mike Stephens, Physician Assistant at LMU.