Tucson: Pets, Vets, Veterans Dayby Karyn Zoldan on Nov. 11, 2011, under Animal News, Dogs, Canines, Fun with Fido, Barking Encouraged
Tucson: Pets, Vets, Veterans Day
Therapy dogs bring relief and joy to veterans.
from the HSSA press release
When Lady trots down the halls of the Tucson VA Medical Center, she is on a first-name basis with staff and patients.
Lady is a 10 year-old Sheltie and a therapy dog trained to give affection to strangers. Lady and her owner, Ernie Minchella, are volunteers in the Pets for Vets program at the hospital. They were certified through the Humane Society of Southern Arizona’s Pet VIP visitation program.
Ernie is a Vietnam vet and a former patient at the hospital. “When I was here I saw this man with a therapy dog, and asked about what he was doing. The rest is history.”
An animal visit can offer entertainment and a welcome distraction from pain. People often talk to the dogs, and research shows petting an animal can reduce a person’s blood pressure. Petting encourages use of hands and arms, stretching and turning.
“The Pets for Vets program is so important. We just love having the dogs come in to see the patients,” says Deborah Brookshire, VA Volunteer Services Program Manager.
Therapy pets give people a common interest and provide a focus for conversation. Many people in hospitals have had to give up their own animals and miss the unconditional love a pet provides. A dog pays little attention to age or physical ability, but accepts people as they are.
When Ernie and Lady come to visit, they stop in to see his fellow veterans. “I think I get more out of it than they do, and it’s great exercise for me and my Lady.”
Waive adoption fees for active & retired military on Veterans Day
Plus, to thank active and retired military servicemen and women, the HSSA will offer waived adoption fees (but not license fees) on all pets for military families on Veterans Day at the main shelter. Please visit the HSSA this Friday and be a hero to a homeless pet in need!
(Louis Serna enjoys Lady’s company at the Tucson VA – Photo courtesy of the HSSA)