Four-legged friends 'brighten every day'

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  • Week 1 winner Rollo, a 2-year-old Shih Tzu mix, is a loyal companion with "top-notch" snuggle skills, says Patient Care Tech Michael Palmer.
  • Bo, companion to Rachael Blalock of UAB Hospital Pharmacy, racked up the votes in Week 3.
  • Week 4 winner Chauncey the Cheagle was an instant hit with the family of Transplant Operations Nurse Tiffany Cheeks.
  • Lucy is the odd girl out in a field of dogs that swept the weekly winners until Week 5. She is friend to Emily Haskew of UAB Hospital Labs.
  • AND THE WINNER IS CHARLIE, an 8-month-old mini Australian shepherd, is a constant source of laughter for Jerrie McCurry, administrative associate in the School of Optometry. Charlie was the Week 2 finalist and overall winner of the UAB Cutest Pet photo competition. See all the finalists at
  • CUTEST BFFs: Tailor and Bobbin are MFEO (Made for Each Other) and Stacy Hall, a research associate in Microbiology. See other best friends at
  • WHO'S WHO: Binx and Bowie, who live with Kathleen Lowry, a program coordinator in Neurology, are "Most Likely to Become a Meme." See which pet has the best smile, is ready to rumble or might dethrone Grumpy Cat and more online at

Anyone who has been welcomed home after a long day by a soft purr or wagging tail can tell you it doesn’t take a medical professional to know that pets make people’s lives better.

Science backs them up, though. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pets can decrease blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness, while increasing opportunities for socialization, exercise and outdoor activities.

Staff for Hand in Paw, a nonprofit organization that provides animal-assisted therapy, witness these benefits firsthand. 

“We see pets improving human health and well-being every day throughout the community,” said its Associate Director Liz Wilson. “We are thankful UAB recognized the many potential benefits of the human-animal bond more than two decades ago when it became Hand in Paw’s very first service partner.”

This past month, UAB Employee Wellness spotlighted the bond between pets and their people with a pet photo contest in which employees submitted more than 300 photos. Each week in January, the UAB community voted for UAB’s Cutest Pet. The five finalists are quick to extol the benefits their pets have brought to their lives.

See a who's who of UAB”s Cutest Pets, cutest BFFs and all the finalists at

“Chauncey has brought so much joy to my family’s life,” said Transplant Operations Nurse Tiffany Cheeks. Cheeks said there was “an instant connection” when she first the Cheagle puppy at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society — “we knew he was the addition to our family we had been searching for.”

Jerrie McCurry, administrative associate in the School of Optometry, described Charlie, her 8-month-old mini Australian shepherd, as a constant source of laughter. “She loves to make new friends and is the mascot of my church hiking group,” McCurry said.

Patient Care Tech Michael Palmer called Rollo, his 2-year-old Shih Tzu mix, a loyal companion with “top-notch” snuggle skills.“His playful demeanor brightens every day,” Palmer said.