Olive is one of the many therapy dogs a part of the local Acadiana volunteer group Pets for Health. A group whose mission is to provide healthy emotional support through human-animal interaction.
Pets for Health is a local organization set out to improve human health through the love of animals. All of the animals are personal pets of the group’s volunteers and are certified through the national organization pet partners.
“They need to have a good disposition, they need to have a calm temperament, because as you can see we are around a lot of noise and a lot of different things happen and they are not prepared for. So they need to be calm and they need to have a good temperament and they need to love people.” says Lisa Strauss, an animal handler.
Strauss has a therapy dog as well as two miniature horses named Maizy and Peppermint Patty.
She says the effects loving animals can have on those in need is why she continues to volunteer her free time through the organization. “I just see the reaction all the time with animals it’s just incredibly healing and it just brightens there day. Takes there mind off whatever’s not going so good and just puts people in a better mood .”
The group recently visited children at the Deaf Action Center in Lafayette during their summer camp. An event camp counselor Meagan Wimberly says the children anticipate all week long. “It’s very interesting the kids are learning a lot about what the dogs do to help and service. How they help people in need and help people in the nursing home. It’s a lot of education for them.”
Strauss says she also brings her miniature horses to places like the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. She hopes to give the patients something to distract them from their problems even if only for a little while.
“Well it’s very healing it calms your whole body down especially if you’re around a calm non-judgmental animal. It just feels really good to have something or someone around you that just loves you no matter what.” says Strauss.
The group is based solely on volunteers and with events scheduled all year long are always looking for more members.
If you would like to see a full schedule of events or more information on how to get involved visit petsforhealth.org.