Visiting Pet Teams of South Mississippi
In my last job in Alexandria, Virginia I worked with my person for the American Red Cross. Here I am with the co-chairs of the Alexandria Waterfront Festival planning my exhibit on service animals.
Puppy Dog Tales
As I have related we service dogs are pretty special and I also have the honor of being a therapy animal too. Therapy animals work with a handler/partner to provide support to people who need comfort and help with their therapy, and mental stimulation.
Unlike service animals who can only be dogs or horses, therapy animals can be dogs, horses, cats, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, llamas/alpacas, pigs and rats. Whoda thunk it! Please watch this short video on Pet Partners and then I will tell you about our team here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Visiting Pet Teams was organized in 2009 and now has 32 active members. Only one, Patsy Thomas, the coordinator is in Hancock County. They are recruiting new members so the program can expand. Ms. Thomas would love to tell you about the program and the requirements for handler and animal. She can be reached at 228.265.0336 or by email.
Their website gives you information on what is required – they need a friendly animal with basic obedience training, a clear health record, and training specific to the program. There will be a new member orientation on Saturday, January 9th at 9:30 a.m. at Gulfport Memorial Hospital. Contact Patsy Thomas for details.
There is some real magic in this three-way relationship of animal therapist, the handler, and the person visited. Ms. Thomas said that helping motivate people to move past a trauma or to just feel safe and loved is a big part of what the program is all about.
Ms. Thomas said that when a volunteer visits a nursing home, they “bring a bag of pennies and leave with a bag of gold.” Here is the Google website for Visiting Pet Partners – look through it and the photos and think about being a partner with your pet for people who need you.