Animals, People, and Their Emotional Responses (by Guest Writer Sharon Bartley)


animals_vs_humans_00First, meet Sharon here.  Then, read her culminating project.

This term I was introduced into the idea of volunteering. I had thought of volunteering at animal shelters in the past, yet, I had never gotten the time. My instructor had given me some resources to use to find an opportunity that fit my interests. Eventually, I   found a few that sounded workable, one at Animal Aid and another at the Feral Cat Coalition.  As I volunteered at both places, I started to see how people were stronger emotionally and seemed happier working with the animals. They had goals to achieve at the end of the day because of the animals. They wanted to help them and work together to do so. It gives people a connection and sense of purpose, which many people lack in life. I have seen how difficult it is for people to find other people who share the same beliefs and goals, in life. Volunteering here has helped me see that getting involved can help you meet new people and grow mentally and spiritually. Thus, the   following question I chose to research came about: Why are there so many homeless pets even though people have emotional connections to animals that are a positive influence?  My research collection has articles involving the emotions animals instill in humans, why animals are homeless, what influences they have on us: kindness, physical activity, stress relief, companionship, etc.  I hope to with the aid of these articles, answer this research question and help people find a positive influence in their life and strive to help animals in the community.

The Research Question & Research Collection

Research Question:  Pets have a positive influence in people’s lives today, yet we seem to see so many homeless pets despite the emotions people feel because of them.

The following Research Collection was developed to provide some answers and insights into the above research question.

Source 1

Caldwell, Marsha. “How Do Pets Influence Our Lives?”, 11 Jan. 2013. Web. 28 May 2013.

The article from the above website, explains how animals positively impact our lives. They increase our daily activities and decrease stress. Petting an animal is known to be an action that reduces stress even more so than eating a well thought out meal. Research that has been done worldwide displays that pet owners, have less medical visits then non pet owners. Also, pets lessen the stress induced in prisons. Pets offer the elderly love and comfort. Caring for and being cared for is an exchange of low without expectation. Lastly, the article talks about how to prevent pets being thrown out on the street by spaying and neutering them.  Another thing mentioned was Adopting from animal shelters as a solution, instead of supporting the puppy mill of breeders.

The article is supporting my research question: Pets have a positive influence in people’s lives today, yet we seem to see so many homeless pets despite the emotions people feel because of them. The article is telling it’s audience about the positive impact pets have on people’s lives. They decrease stress in humans as well as increasing their levels of physical activities. People are concerned about the impact feral cats will have on the birds and rodents of the area. It is an issue in the grander scheme of the community. The dead rodents and birds found rotting in the back yard. Also, many are concerned with the practices of euthanasia being performed on the cats that are un-able to find homes.  This is an authoritative source because it has been researched by and the article appeals to ethos, pathos, and logos. It is by a well-known information based website as well.

Source 2

This article is explaining about how many cats and dogs are euthanized per year. The number is around 3 to 4 million annually. If animals are not euthanized they are confined to no kill shelters for weeks on end. Nathan Winograd, a well-known no kill advocate strives to support such shelters. A lot of animals go insane from loneliness and confinement. Yet, still more animals are wiling away their live alone on the streets or in secluded back yards. They do not get exercise, companionship, food, water, and shelter. The article goes on to cover three reasons why there are so many stray cats which is one of the things I will cover in my writing. The first reason is that many people fail to spay and neuter their cats so that they reproduce.  Another reason is that people who want pets don’t consider the idea of adopting and instead go to local pet stores or breeders. The last reason is that many people acquire a pet without considering the work involved. People abandon them when they become too busy or it is too much trouble for the owner.  The article concludes presenting the idea of a spay and neuter system. This article is giving us a little insight to the life of homeless animals and what happens to them. That is how it relates to my research question. Academic

Source 3:

American Humane Association. “Pet Overpopulation.” Pet Overpopulation., 2013. Web. 26 May 2013.

This article is informing us about pet overpopulation. Around 8 million animals are taken in to shelter per year. However, around half of these are euthanized. There are many key components as to why there is over population. Some of these are irresponsible breeding, choosing not to adopt, and disposable pets. Disposable pets are typically the result of moving, financial difficulty, and the amount of responsibility it takes to have a pet. Overpopulation is one of reasons for there being so many strays more than shelters can handle. This correlates with my research question because  I am delving into the topic of why we have so many homeless pets.

Source 4:

6 Australian Companion Animal Council Incorporated |. “The Australian Directory of Human Animal Interaction Programs.” Home., 2006. Web. 28 May 2013.

This article is about how animals are a positive influence on human life. They can help us socially, emotionally, and physically. They can soothe us in times of distress or sickness. This relationship is known as HAI( Human Animal Interaction). Lots of groups are out there promoting HAI. Animals are causing people’s lives to have more meaning. It supports my research question in that animals have a positive impact on human’s lives.


The Public Writing

Nathan Winograd

June 1st,  2013

Direction of National No Kill Advocacy

I first became privy to your cause when I started volunteering at the Feral Cat Coalition of Oregon(FCCO) and then looked up articles about animal overpopulation and came across your name. I have found I have enjoyed helping the cause to put animal overpopulation to a halt by no kill methods. Granted, you do not seem to find that there is an overpopulation problem. However, I have seen it first hand in my volunteer opportunities as have the people I volunteer with. I have learned many things by volunteering.

It has allowed me to meet new people who share a lot of the same interests as me and have something to keep me busy for a good amount of time. It shocks me how much of a difference I can make just by volunteering at the FCCO and helping cats be spayed and treated so they can return back to their lives without populating the Earth for there to be more homeless cats spreading illness among themselves. If they have the animal version of AIDS or some other critical condition that does not allow them to live a happy life then we will euthanize them but only then. We do not do it purely out of there being too many animals.  I know you think we are responsible for euthanizing millions of animals every year. Yet, we have justifiable reasons. Which go along with my research question: : Pets have a positive influence in people’s lives today, yet we seem to see so many homeless pets despite the emotions people feel because of them?  You fail to acknowledge why there are so many homeless animals.  Take into account the fact that there are so many irresponsible breeders, people who want pets who forget about the shelters where you can adopt your own pet.  Also, that there are more pets then there are suitable homes that meet the requirements of an adoption shelter.  Around 8 million animals enter a shelter per year and the only solution to stop this is spaying and neutering. That is what the FCCO’s mission was. We would not turn away any animal that came to our door, unless they were not fit with sickness to return to where they were being taken care of. We would always spay and neuter a cat and give it the basic treatments and scans. If it had something that was making its life miserable such as the feline version of AIDS we would have it euthanized, but only then. Animals have always been an interest of mine since I was little. I used to go and play with my neighbor’s kittens when they were born (there always seemed to be a new litter). As a child, I was somewhat of a loner and shunned by the girls at my private school and they made sure the boys didn’t acknowledge me. Even if they started to, the girls would find some new game to play. The animals were an emotional outlet for me. They calmed me down and were stress relieving for me. I was a child then and did not understand that as well; yet now I do. Animals were something that helped me find a focus in life and a purpose. They made me feel happy and have something to look forward to after school. They can be emotionally supportive and your best friend, if you are willing to reach out to them. That is one of the reasons why many people have pets because they are a good companion. Yet, sometimes people get too caught up in their life to be able to take care of them which is why they have to be abandoned. Yet, it is just a matter of working to find somewhere for them to live so they can have a good life. It all comes down to a choice and whether or not you have the drive. Animals are something that drives me and is part of the reason why I have an interest in being a Vet Tech. That is one of the reasons that I chose to volunteer where I did so I could learn a little of what it is like to be that. Maybe you should consider volunteering at a shelter and really finding out what it is like for the animals and seeing things first hand. The delight people have when they take their adopted pet home and how happy the animal is; is very delightful to see. The things a Vet Tech can do to ease a pet’s pain is amazing and satisfies that desire to achieve something wonderful. Animals are something that can satisfy one’s goals, dreams, desires, etc. We just need to fix the aforementioned reasons as to why animals are homeless and achieve happiness for them and people.




  1. emily keudell

    This entire entry of work is beautiful,
    The time and effort that you invested into your work and research is apparent with the quality of your writing and your voice that is strongly present in your work. You did an outstanding job with organization, which made it very easy for me as a reader to look at your work and not only understand it but value it and truly appreciate your efforts and opinion.
    I thought your research question was wonderful, very thought provoking and inspirational. Your research section is a place that I would visit if I ever wrote a topic at all similar to yours. It is easy to use and you did a great job with the descriptions below.
    Congrats! And Happy Summer!!!!

  2. Nicole Castro

    As an animal lover I was immediately drawn to your project. I am the person that wants to scoop up every animal at the shelter and take them home with me. That is also the only way I will get an animal; by adopting from a shelter. I have a pit/boxer mix and I can’t imagine how he was homeless before because of the joy he brings to people around him.
    In your first source you mentioned that people with pets have less medical visits than those without pets. That’s fascinating! I never knew that and it actually makes a lot of sense.
    I could really relate to you second source as well. The place I adopted my dog doesn’t allow you to take your dog home until they have been neutered. Although, the procedure is spendy, it helps eliminate the problem of future homeless animals. However, I do believe and understand pets can be expensive and with the economy being down, unfortunately pets are usually something people tend to eliminate to save money.
    Your letter was super powerful and created a VERY strong argument. I loved how you called them out and told them how it should be. You did a very good job on everything!


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