Volunteering with Your Pet

By: Kristie Franks, MS    www.petshelpingpeople.com

Why do people volunteer? Why should we care? What is the big deal anyway? Well, let’s just say that giving of one’s time to help others is a wonderful thing!!! There are many people who do not have a good family support system available to them for various reasons. They need support just like anyone else. Volunteer is giving back to those who don’t get the support they truly need and to others to help brighten their day as well.

Pet therapy is a wonderful way to volunteer. Science has done many studies and proven that the presence of a calm dog or cat can lower a person’s heart rate, respiratory rate and make their serotonin levels go up (your natural happy stuff) and make your cortisol go down (your natural feel bad stuff). They also recognize now that other animals can help too. A therapy animal can be any domestic species that is friendly, doesn’t bites and enjoys spending time traveling and visiting strangers.

Many have said they would love to do this but don’t have time. The point of volunteering in these situations is to make time for others. Some truly don’t have a schedule conducive of volunteering, but most people would be able to dedicate an hour or two a week to visiting others in the hospital or nursing home. You can also participate in the R.E.A.D. program with the elementary schools where your dog allows the kids to read to them in order to improve their reading skills. Again, research has shown this helps tremendously because the dogs do not judge the children.

Huntsville Pets Helping People is a therapy animal group located in Huntsville, Texas. Our group has multiple members but we always need more teams. We could really use some more read teams right now as well as teams to visit the hospital and nursing homes here in town. It is always a great feeling when you see a smile on a kids face because they know they get to read to your dog! It is also great to know that you get to help others that are in the hospital and nursing homes have a brighter day. I fully believe that the work we do is invaluable, but we really could use some new teams. If you think you have a dog, cat, guinea pig or miniature horse that is calm and friendly enough to do it and would like more information, please email Marilyn Meshell at blue25corgi@yahoo.com for more information or visit our website listed above.

(We own the photos presented and have permission to use them from the individuals in them also)