Life is precious, and as humans we're drawn like magnets to rescue stories in which jeopardized lives are saved. But people who adopt a pet from a shelter actually participate in a very similar narrative. After all, when we rescue an animal from a shelter, we truly are saving a life.

A Contagious Love of Life

Rescued pets love life, and despite our moods, they live life to its fullest. Whether snacking, playing, or even sleeping, cats and dogs do everything with robust delight. When we adopt a pet whose future was bleak, we get a front-row seat to their happiness.

But here's the best part: This love for life is contagious! Even our visitors love our rescued pets, because our animals' joy rubs off on others. It's one of the best — and most surprising — benefits to adopting a rescued animal.

The Great Feeling of a Good Deed

When we adopt rescued pets, we've done a good deed — and can enjoy the gratifying feeling that follows.

To explore this concept, Petcentric sought an authoritative voice on the matter: licensed relationship counselor in Washington, D.C., David Sheets. In our interview, Sheets acknowledged the importance of those gratifying feelings. "Among other needs, people need to care for something or someone else [besides themselves]." To prove his point, he suggested we consider the satisfaction we feel when we care for a rescued pet.

Hard Evidence

Good feelings are great, but are there any verifiable benefits to adopting an animal from a shelter? You bet!

Relating to rescued dogs and cats can reduce stress, diminish blood pressure, and even negate clinical depression, according to studies included in a 2010 article in The Examiner.

The article indicates that "heart attack patients with pets survive longer than those without, and AIDS patients in a study proved to be far less likely to suffer depression when living with a beloved pet. Alzheimer's patients are calmer with fewer anxious outbursts, as are schizophrenics."

Further, our body's serotonin and dopamine levels can be boosted by interactions with our rescued animals, giving us a "pleasurable and calming" effect.

Who Benefits More?

Though the pets themselves may disagree, it just might be that humans benefit even more from rescuing pets than the animals we bring home. As one Petcentric article noted, "A pet can dig up satisfying feelings that were buried — feelings of being relevant, needed, and useful."

Rescued pets might seem like the primary benefactors in an adoption scenario. But any owner of a rescued cat or dog will tell you that they are pleasantly surprised by the rewards of their experience. Just ask them. Or better yet, try it yourself!

Have you adopted any rescued pets? Leave us a comment letting us know how it enriched your life.