Paw-sitively fur-bulous ways pets can support our health

It’s National Dog Day* and we’re celebrating our furry friends, their companionship and the health benefits they bring to our lives.

Did you know that according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, owning a pet is linked to a decrease in blood pressure, total cholesterol and triglycerides? Great, so all we need to do is adopt a pet to be healthy? While we do want to encourage everyone to consider helping our local Pima Animal Care Center by adopting or fostering one of the thousands of animals taken in each year, there is more to the connection between pets and improved health.

Important aspects of being healthy include staying active, managing stress, having a strong sense of purpose and having a good social support network. Owning, fostering or even volunteering to work with animals can help us more easily achieve these healthy behaviors.

1. Purpose and connection

Having a pet or participating in a program that cares for animals gives us purpose and helps connect us with others who have similar values and passions. Pets can serve as a social icebreaker for people who tend to be shy and more introverted, easing the creation of social bonds. Through these connections, we can develop a support network that goes beyond the commonality of pet ownership. 2. Improve mood and decrease tension or stress

2. Improve mood and decrease tension or stress

Hopefully, everyone has had the opportunity to experience the unconditional love that a pet greets you with when you return home or go to visit them. This greeting alone can improve mood and decrease tension or stress. Animals can keep us in the present moment, which helps to distract us from our worries and problems that we might tend to ruminate about.

3. Reduce heart rate and blood pressure

Many studies have demonstrated that petting an animal can reduce heart rate, blood pressure and perceived level of stress. Plus, how can you not feel joyful when animals look at you with such adoration as you pet them?

4. Maintain a routine and stay active

Pets, and dogs most specifically, help us to maintain a routine and stay active. While we may be willing to skip our own exercise, we are not likely to say no to our loving pets! Even if it is just a quick walk around the neighborhood, remember, any activity is better than nothing. If you are interested in a more rigorous workout, please take a look at our post on running with our four-legged friends.

Regardless of what type of activity you choose to do with your pet, getting into a routine can also have an impact on the other health choices we make throughout our day. Once you are consistently doing one thing to benefit your health, you are more likely to follow up with others, such as making healthy food choices or getting better quality sleep.

National Dog Day

*August 26th is National Dog Day, initiated to help galvanize the public to recognize the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year and to acknowledge family dogs and dogs that work each day to save lives, keep us safe and bring comfort. Our friends at Pima Animal Care Center organize events throughout the month to help people who would like to adopt or foster dogs and cats. Check out PACC’s foster event schedule.


Pup at PACC waiting for new home


TMC helps kick off effort to save more lives at Pima Animal Care Center

Julia Strange and Simon at campaign kickoff

Julia Strange and PACC alum Simon at campaign kickoff

Any given day at Tucson Medical Center, pet therapy teams including 32 dogs and one miniature pony visit hospitalized patients to share comfort and affection.

“They bring their love and their compassion to our patients and they provide a welcome distraction when people are at their most vulnerable,” said Julia Strange, TMC’s vice president of Community Benefit.

Pup at PACC waiting for new home

Pup at PACC waiting for new home

Many of the dogs on these teams are rescues. It’s just one of the reasons TMC, which appreciates the role pets have in the overall wellness of the community, is supporting an effort to raise funds for life-saving programs at the shelter, said Strange.

Strange and TMC’s President and CEO Judy Rich are serving as co-chairs of the
Your Love Saves Lives campaign through the Friends of PACC, the nonprofit arm of Pima Animal Care Center.

The goal of the campaign is to raise $5 million in private donations to expand veterinary services, to purchase needed medical equipment and to support programs such as community cat screenings and behavioral training for dogs.

To date, the community has raised more than $4.25 million toward the goal, announced Friends of PACC Executive Director Jennifer Camano.

Ray Carroll and Dan Eckstrom with PACC alumni Simon

Ray Carroll and Dan Eckstrom with PACC alumnus Simon

“We are asking the community now to help us close the gap,” Camano said, at a kick-off press conference with supporters. “This is a doable goal for this community and we know this community loves pets.”

The only open admission animal shelter, which accepts every pet in need, Pima Animal Care Center saved more pets in 2017 than ever before – more than 91 percent, of the more than 16,000 pets it took in.

Additionally, the shelter performed more than 7,500 spay and neuter surgeries and addressed more than 20,000 animal protection calls.

“We are honored to be a part of this effort,” Strange said, “and passionate about making sure the public understands the important role pets play in public health.”

To learn more about the campaign or to donate, please visit the Friends of PACC website


TMC celebrates pets in three September events

Pets can be part of a healthy lifestyle, from lowering blood pressure to reducing stress and encouraging owners to move more.

With the last week of September National Dog Week, TMC is going to the dogs (and cats) in three separate pet-friendly events at The Core at La Encantada.

  • Think your pup has what it takes to be a therapy dog to help cheer up patients, visitors and staff in the hospital? Come find out how to join TMC’s Pet Therapy team and – with the help of Pet Partners of Southern Arizona – learn the ins and outs of getting certified on Saturday, Sept. 2 at 10 a.m. Click here to register.
  • If you have a pet, you’ve probably at some point contemplated whether pet food, pet toys and cleaning products are OK for the environment. Come learn about environmentally friendly pet care with Mrs. Green’s World on Sunday, Sept. 24 at 2 p.m. Click here to register.
  • Pima Animal Care Center has thousands of pets each year (like PACC alumni Chester shown here) looking for a new home – and new exercise buddies. Join Care Center staff in learning more about how to exercise safely with your pet on Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m. Click here to register.

Pets are welcome at these three events. Find out more by visiting The Core at La Encantada.

TMC, Pima Animal Care Center team up for first Paws on the Run 5k on April 8

running-with-shelter-pets-at-pima-animal-care-centerThose who love shelter pets – and enjoy an active lifestyle – can now unleash their passion for both!

Tucson Medical Center and Pima Animal Care Center have teamed up to offer the inaugural Paws on the Run, a 5k run on April 8 supporting the community’s only open-admission shelter. Proceeds also support Girls on the Run, a positive youth development program teaching life skills to girls through physical activity.

The top 10 donors who contribute beyond the affordable $20 race entry fee will get to run with a shelter dog! In addition, pet adoptions are free all day for race participants.

“TMC has long been committed to supporting activities that allow members of the community to be engaged partners in their own health and wellbeing,” said Julia Strange, vice president of community benefit for TMC. “At the same time, we’ve always appreciated the role that Pima Animal Care Center plays in supporting and protecting public health.”

“TMC has been a tremendous partner with PACC, and they always support our mission to build a compassionate and healthy community for people and pets,” agreed Justin Gallick, director of community engagement at Pima Animal Care Center. “This run will help keep our deserving pets healthy while they wait for forever home.”
The 5K run course at Christopher Columbus Park is around scenic Silverbell Lake and is untimed so everyone can safely negotiate the terrain.

The race, which begins at 7:30 a.m., precedes the Girls on the Run 5k at 8:30 a.m., and the Fit Kidz 1 mile Fun Run for children 12 and under at 9:30 a.m., hosted by the Southern Arizona Roadrunners.

For more information or to register, please visit

Running with four-legged friends good for pets, owners

Making our community a healthier place is a goal shared by the Tucson Medical Center and the Southern Arizona Roadrunners. TMC is excited to partner with SAR to bring you regular features and wellness tips designed to make your running the best it can be.

In this feature, Amy Ramsey, TMC’s employee wellness and engagement manager, shares some tips about running with dogs as TMC gears up for its first-ever Paws on the Run 5k fun run to benefit Pima Animal Care Center and Girls on the Run on April 8 at Christopher Columbus Park. Kids can also come out and run a FREE one mile fun run presented by Southern Arizona Roadrunner’s FitKidz.

Shelter adoptions are free that day for participants and families.

To register:

running-partners-amy-and-gertie-enjoy-shared-activity-timeWhat kinds of dogs are appropriate for running?

I have two dogs at home, a Chihuahua and a large Shepherd mix we rescued from a local shelter seven years ago.

Don’t let little legs fool you: Our Chihuahua is a great running partner for our children, as he doesn’t have as much stamina as our larger breed. The kids enjoy running him around the block a few times, and he stops when he’s had enough.

Gertie, our larger breed, enjoys running longer distances to which we’ve built up over time. We’ve determined 2-3 miles is an optimal distance for her based on her energy level  during and after the run.

Each breed is different in regards to how far and long activity should be so checking with your vet and doing a little research on your specific dog breed will tell you a lot about their activity needs and tolerance.

 How can you get started in running with your dog?

Just like humans, dogs can be trained to increase activity based on consistent efforts. But remember, just as you listen to your body to be sensible and avoid injury by increasing slowly, you’ll need to watch for signs from your pup that could show exhaustion or discomfort as well.

running-with-shelter-pets-at-pima-animal-care-center.jpgWhat are the benefits you’ve experienced?

Asking the kids to run the dog is a great excuse to get them out of the house – and they all come back happier.

I am an early morning runner, and if I’m not meeting up with running partners, Gertie is the perfect companion to help keep me feeling safe. Yes, I still carry my pepper spray, but I’m a little more relaxed with her by my side.

She’s also just a better behaved dog when she gets regular exercise. Dogs are a lot like humans in this way. How many times have you missed a workout and find yourself feeling grumpy or irritable because of it? Dogs are the same.

Like humans, dogs can act out in other ways, such as destructive behavior, if they aren’t getting enough activity. They can crave routine and look forward to “burning off the crazy” just as much as we do.

Can you share a list of critical tips?

  • Keep the leash short. This is for your dog’s safety, as well as others who may be biking, running, driving by you. This also helps keep the dog closer to you, allowing for more training/learning moments for your pup.
  • Pick a side. Establish which side of you the dog will be running on and keep this consistent. Your dog likes to know what to expect. Rules and boundaries are healthy for them. This comes in particularly handy when training them NOT to lunge for that lizard that just darted across the path.
  • Praise liberally. Bringing treats in your pocket can help keep his focus on you, while reinforcing his good decisions, like not pulling towards the bicycle that just passed, or not barking at the spastic dog on the other side of the fence.
  • Remember hydration. Bring water if you’ll be out more than 30 minutes or if it is especially warm. If your dog isn’t great at drinking from a water bottle, small collapsible bowls are very portable. Some larger breeds actually ENJOY wearing a backpack that could be filled with treats, water, and a bowl. It gives them a sense of purpose.

How about a “please don’t” list?


  • Forget to bring bags for waste. It’s called being a responsible pet owner and a good neighbor.
  • Use a retractable leash. Exceptions can sometimes be made for smaller breeds, but if you happen to be using a multiuse path such as The Loop, DON’T do it. It’s just plain dangerous.
  • Take your dog out for a run if it’s too hot. Dogs are very susceptible to heat exhaustion, some breeds more than others. Also-the pavement heats up quickly and those paw pads are sensitive. Some dogs allow for booties, but a quick YouTube search for “Dogs With Shoes” shows you quickly that most won’t tolerate it. This has been a favorite search for my kids, with a lot of laughter. I recommend morning or evening outings here in the Southwest.
  • Take the same route every day. Your dog lives by his nose, so give him new areas to sniff and give yourself new things to see. It’s good for both of your brains!

ruff-runners-provides-opportunities-for-fitness-as-well-as-community-service.jpgAre there opportunities to have this experience, even if you don’t own a dog?

The dogs at Pima Animal Care Center not only need that daily exercise, but those walks or runs are of high importance to keep their spirits high, making them more desirable and adoptable for prospective pet owners.

There are many volunteer opportunities at PACC to help with this activity, but one that I specifically love is the Ruff Runners group. On Tuesday evenings and Friday mornings, people are encouraged to come out and help exercise these wonderful dogs.

When signing in, I was asked if I preferred a younger, higher energy dog to run, or if I’d like to help an older or possibly injured dog get some fresh air by walking them slowly, on a shorter route. It is really very rewarding to see all of those wonderful shelter dogs paired with their volunteers and enjoying the exercise and companionship – which goes both ways.

Supervisor Ray Carroll sure knows how to celebrate National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month


Last week, Pima Animal Care Center released this great story about Supervisor Ray Carroll. Carroll is a long-time supporter of TMC and this is just another example of the work he does– on the job and off.



Supervisor Ray Carroll had no idea he was about to add another dog to his household.

After all, he already has two rescue dogs at home.

But when Carroll sponsored a friend’s adoption of a dog at Pima Animal Care Center, he himself wound up with a 4-year-old Schnauzer full of personality.

Simon was brought to Pima Animal Care Center on Sept. 25 as a stray.

Supervisor Carroll only just picked him up Thursday, but Simon’s already on his way to Gently Spoiled Avenue. By Friday afternoon, he had been to the groomer, was sporting a hoodie that said “Doggone Gorgeous,” was drinking bottled water and had scored some beef jerky.

With October being National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, Carroll said he would encourage others to see if Pima Animal Care Center has the right dog for their own families. “It would be great if we could set a record month for October,” said Carroll, who will bring Simon to events all month to help spread the word. “There are still 27 days left.”

Kim Janes, manager of Pima Animal Care Center, said he remains grateful for the support of the Board of Supervisors in its entirety. The Board opens each regular meeting by introducing a dog in need of a home and members routinely encourage adoptions. “Board members are clearly animal lovers, as evidenced by Supervisor Carroll’s willingness to provide a loving home for Simon.”

Pima Animal Care Center will be at Tucson Meet Yourself and the SAHBA Home Show this month, as well as other upcoming events. Please visit for more information.


Tucson Medical Center | 5301 E. Grant Road | Tucson, Arizona 85712 | (520) 327-5461