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By Julianne Pepitone

National Love Your Pet Day may be on Feb. 20, but like many pet owners, Know Your Value founder and “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski celebrates the spirit daily.

“Our pets are crucial to the health of myself and my family on a very serious level,” Brzezinski told Know Your Value. “They have brought us peace. They calm us down. They’ve helped us grieve and helped us bond. They bring us joy, and in difficult times for our family they’ve often been the thing that helps bring us back together.”

Brzezinski has so many pets she can scarcely count them. Her animal family includes more traditional pets like Cajun, the 13-year-old hound dog rescued from Hurricane Katrina, Emma, a 10-year-old feral cat rescue from Lancaster County, and Elle and Meatball, large cats adopted through Animal League America.

Brzezinski’s daughter, Emilie, has a dog named Cali, while her other daughter, Carlie has a 110-pound Berniedoodle named Hobson. Then there’s Daisy, a German Shepherd security dog who belonged to Brzezinski’s father, Zbigniew, before his death in 2017.

Joe Scarborough, Brzezinski’s husband, also has a Golden Retriever named Scout who helped their families bond. “My mother [Emilie] loves Scout, which is a perfect example of the theme of bringing families and people together,” Brzezinski said.

Mika Brzezinski's mother, Emilie, pets Golden Retriever Scout.Courtsey of Mika Brzezinski.

Her mother has also found comfort in a more unlikely pet: a pig named K.C. “The first real summer after my father passed, we had this pig in the backyard and to my amazement my mother just absolutely came back to life before my eyes,” Brzezinski said. “My mom kept rubbing K.C.’s back and talking to her. She’d rush outside to make sure everything was OK with the pig.”

K.C. lives at the nonprofit Peace Ridge Sanctuary in Maine, where Emilie spends her summers. “My mother is 87 years old, rebuilding her life after my father’s passing, getting back into her work as an artist. Meanwhile she’s also had two heart attacks and been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. K.C. is part of her health.”

K.C., Mika Brzezinski's pet pig, lives at the nonprofit Peace Ridge Sanctuary in Maine.Courtsey of Mika Brzezinski.

Other pets include a flock of chickens and a pair of bunnies named Melania and Donald.

For Brzezinski, the whole brood has helped her feel less stressed, happier and provided a sense of purpose outside herself.

Melania, Mika Brzezinski's pet rabbit.Courtsey of Mika Brzezinski.

“From my kids to my mother to my husband, animals are always the ties that bind,” Brzezinski said. “There have been times in my family where things were fraught between us, and the only way I could get a response from people was to share a photo of the dog in a group text.”

The drama in the group text as of late has concerned bunnies Melania and Donald, Brzezinski said: “We noticed that Melania kept, well, jumping on Donald. We were told Donald was male and Melania was female. Turns out, it’s the opposite. This has generated a great deal of discussion and amusement in my texts.”