ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — For those in nursing homes or assisted living facilities, isolation has been a harsh reality for many, many months.

In fact – residents in these homes have been relying on pets for emotional support.

“It reduces you getting into isolation because you have a companion,” said Ashley Zeh, communications director with Lollypop Farm.

Zeh says in these times, pets are healing them from any loneliness or stress of the pandemic, and offering a sense of company.

“It gets you into doing more exercise, if you have a dog, reduces stress,” said Zeh.

Over at St. John’s Meadows, about 10% of residents have pets ranging from cats to rabbits to turtles.

Staff say pets are a silver lining of joy throughout months of cold, mixed in with COVID-19.

Nancy Damore is one of the residents – making the best use of her time with her cat Grayson. She only gets to see her family outside.

“The winter holidays were difficult, I ordered food in from the dining hall,” said Damore.

But her cat has been one of the most important parts of this pandemic. And her pet is even inspiring other residents around her to adopt.

“Some residents did go out and get pets since this, you could see their whole mood and demeanor change since they got that companion,” said Tony Zaccaglino, Director of Operations at St John’s.

Damore says while these times have been challenging – she’s excited to return to a pre-pandemic world with the vaccine.

And until then – she’s completely comfortable.

“I was comfortable, I love my apartment and the cat was part of it, just having company its like having a roommate,” she said.

St John’s has trails covering both campuses – where residents can take their pets out for nature walks. Those paths connect right to Brighton Town Trail.