Syracuse, NY (February 1, 2018) – February is National Heart Month, and St. Joseph’s Health is encouraging everyone to consider adding a dog to their lives to support better heart health.

As the number one hospital for cardiac care in the region, St. Joseph’s is committed to finding and sharing all of the different ways to help reduce the number of heart attacks and other cardiovascular conditions through community education, preventative care and population health.

“Central New Yorkers should not take for granted that they have easy access to some of the highest quality cardiac care in the world,” said Dr. Russell Silverman, M.D., F.A.C.C., Medical Director of St. Joseph’s Physicians Cardiology Services at St. Joseph’s Health. “There are many small adjustments that people can take to improve their everyday lives and overall health. Hopefully, they will never need our emergency cardiac services; but if they do, we are here and ready to treat every cardiac condition.”

National studies have long shown that the heart health benefits of dogs, including the studies from the American Heart Association. The most recent study, released by Scientific Reports in November of 2017, shows these benefits to include:

Lower blood pressure, reduced cholesterol, and decreased triglyceride levels

  • Lower risk of cardiovascular disease and "all-cause mortality"
  • As much as 33% lower risk of death and 11% lower chances of a heart attack
  • Higher survival rate following a heart attack
  • Higher level of physical activity and lower body weight
  • Lower levels of stress
  • Improved socialization and emotional wellbeing
  • Stronger immune systems and longer lifespan

To help community members take advantage of these heart health benefits, St. Joseph’s is sponsoring adoption fees for all dogs at the CNYSPCA and Humane CNY during the month of February.

                                        *Media opportunity*

WHAT:      Interviews with St. Joseph’s Health cardiologist and animal shelter representative(s)

WHEN:      Thursday, February 1 between 12:00 and 1:00 pm

WHERE:    CNYSPCA, 5878 East Molloy Road, Syracuse, NY 13211

“We are so grateful for St. Joseph’s support, especially during Heart Month, because we know first-hand how much our dogs and other pets can help to improve our health,” said Dee Schaefer, Director of Humane Education at the CNYSPCA. “The CNYSPCA has two trained therapy dogs who visit with people in hospitals like St. Joseph’s Hospital, nursing homes, hospice, schools, and many other facilities to promote the health benefits of the human-animal bond. And these benefits can be accomplished right at home with any of our dogs or other pets.”

“We have worked with St. Joseph’s Health in the past, and this support from St. Joseph’s couldn’t have come at a better time,” said Christine McNeely, Executive Director of Humane CNY. “It’s great timing for Heart Month, but also great timing as we are trying to empty our shelter in preparation for extensive renovations. We hope people will take advantage of this opportunity and come adopt the pets available here.”

“We recognize that dog ownership isn’t possible for everyone,” said Dr. Matthew O’Hern, M.D., Invasive Cardiologist at St. Joseph’s Health. “So, we have extended our sponsorship to cover adoption fees for some smaller animals, such as cats, which have also been shown to help people recover faster from illness, get sick less often, have fewer allergies, lower blood pressure, and many other health benefits. We have the best technology in the country at our facilities, but sometimes a little TLC can make a big difference in disease prevention and recovery.”

In fact, St. Joseph’s believes so strongly in the health benefits of dogs that the hospital instituted a pet therapy program in 2014.

Information about shelter locations, hours, adoption process and more is available at each shelter’s website. For CNYSPCA, visit And for Humane CNY, visit

St. Joseph’s Health also recently announced investments in enhancements to cardiac care services, including a new Cardiovascular Center for Excellence and construction of a helipad. For more information, visit

About St. Joseph’s Health

St. Joseph’s Health is a non-profit regional health care system based in Syracuse, N.Y., providing services to patients throughout Central New York and northern Pennsylvania. From primary to specialty to home care, to our Magnet-recognized hospital, and in collaboration with our community partners, St. Joseph's Health is advancing the health of the communities we serve through an expanding range of healthcare services to ensure our patients achieve optimum long-term health. Ranked by Consumer Reports among the top 15 heart surgery centers in the country, U.S. News “Best Regional Hospital” and a 15-time winner of the National Research Corporation Consumer Choice award, St. Joseph’s is widely recognized for quality, value and delivering the highest patient satisfaction. St. Joseph’s Health is affiliated with Franciscan Companies and St. Joseph’s Physicians and is a member of Trinity Health.