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When You Can't Have a Pet: How Animal Lovers Can Still Spend Time With Furry Friends

Mar 27, 2014 12:07AM ● By Erin Frisch

Numerous studies have shown that having a pet improves your health. You gain both physical and emotional benefits, including exercise, increased allergen tolerance and lowered stress levels—plus, everybody knows that animals just put us in a better mood. They don't care that you left the house 12 hours ago, didn’t make that important deadline at work or forgot to return a phone call. All they care about is that you are here, now, in this moment. Sometimes we animal lovers find ourselves in a situation that doesn’t allow us to have a pet. If you're feeling lonely without a furry friend, don’t dismay you can still have animals in your life to love and cherish you unconditionally. Here's how:

Volunteer at Your Local Shelter

The Corporation for National and Community Service published a study that showed a relationship between good health and volunteering. Those who volunteer have lower mortality rates and lower rates of depression than those who don't.

Visit to search for volunteer opportunities that involve animals. Consider volunteering to perform pet therapy—you get to spend time with a therapy dog while visiting those who are sick or depressed. Volunteer to work at a rescue shelter or the local zoo. Or, volunteer with a local pet rescue to play with and exercise their animals. You may also help them out at their pet adoption events, using your animal-lover intuition to find loving homes for some lonely pets. Contact your local Humane Society or pet rescue, or visit to find volunteer opportunities (or maybe even a paying job) at a local shelter.

Become a Vet Tech

Consider becoming a veterinary technician; you'll help diagnose and treat animals under the supervision of a veterinarian. The median pay for a vet tech in the United States in 2012 was $30,290 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The position generally requires a two-year associate degree and no experience. Penn Foster partners with Banfield and VCA animal hospitals, so their students receive real-world experience during their practicums. Visit to learn more.

Become a Dog Walker or Pet Sitter

Having a dog is a lot of work, and sometimes owners need help. Dog walking and pet sitting are fun ways to make some extra cash and spend time with animals. You can start by asking friends or family if they need someone to walk their pet during a long work day or need a pet sitter while on vacation. Some agencies will set you up with pet owners, or advertise your services on sites like

If you become serious about dog walking and actually want to make it a career, you can obtain a licence that will build your reputation and help you gain clientele. Some schools offer scholarships and will even help you start your own business, such as Canine Club Academy.

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