Walking a dog this spring is a great way to improve physical fitness. That’s why the Oakland Pet Adoption Center features a program called Fitness Unleashed, where working residents can come and take a dog for a walk or visit with a cat on their lunch hour. It is part of Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson’s vision to improve the quality of life in Oakland County through more active and healthier lifestyles.
“It’s a great way to get a little exercise in, and help a shelter animal stay socialized,” Administrative Supervisor Joanie Toole said. “When it comes to getting fit, dogs make great accountability partners.”
Dog owners are more likely to be physically active, decreasing their risk for heart disease and other cardiac conditions. Dog walking also strengthens bones and helps to prevent osteoporosis because it is a weight-bearing exercise.
While dogs can get the heart rate up and rev metabolism, cats can enhance mental and circulatory health. Spending 15 minutes with a pet will cause chemical changes in the brain that reduce levels of cortisol, a hormone produced by stress that may lead to cardiac problems.
“Cats provide numerous wellness benefits. Petting a cat can naturally lower your stress and blood pressure levels. Animals are great at cheering you up because they love you unconditionally,” Toole said.
Families looking to volunteer at the shelter can participate in one of the monthly volunteer training orientations for cat comforting or dog walking. Children must be 12 years and older to volunteer at the shelter. The Oakland Pet Adoption Center is located at 1700 Brown Road in Auburn Hills. For more information, please visit oakgov.com/petadoption or call 248-391-4100.
The Oakland Pet Adoption Center’s mission is to provide a temporary safe haven for animals until it finds them permanent homes. The shelter, under the leadership of County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, offers housing and medical care to more than 5,000 animals on an annual basis. It has the best save rate in Michigan among public open-admission shelters whose intakes are greater than 5,000 animals. OPAC also is the public agency charged with enforcement of Michigan’s Dog Law of 1919. It is responsible for animal control services in 40 Oakland County communities.