Animal therapy offered in the Lower Mainland for mental health

A Lower Mainland pet therapy group, providing a “paw-itive” outlook on life to communities in need through their furry, four-legged friends, celebrates 40 years in September of this year.

To understand his love, look him in the eyes.

Pina Scaglione’s mother suffered from vertigo. It was the love of the cute therapist that got him through the tough times.

“For several days she (my mum) couldn’t move, and our dog became so connected with my mum that she lays next to her, doesn’t make noise and comforts her throughout the sessions. .”

If that isn’t love, I’d like a crash course in it.

On days when everything was dark, the German shepherd from the house of Scaglione became the beacon of light: For her, for her mother who suffers from vertigo and for the whole family.

Pets dogs in particular love in unconditional ways that most of us cannot understand. Sometimes we need that love and companionship to get through the dark times.

Scaglione, after putting the brakes on her 38-year career in the research industry, and experiencing first-hand how a compassionate companion animal could change a life, found fulfilling life purpose when she began working for Pets and Friends, a non-profit organization. which aims to spread “paws-itivity” in communities.

Building a team of volunteers owners and their pets, the charity facilitates pet therapy services for communities in need of support.

Scaglione feels it’s imperative that certain communities, especially those that are more isolated (like long-term care homes), feel the touch, the love in their eyes, and the connection.

“There’s actually kind of a physiological benefit,” she said. “As soon as they see you, you smile because they like you. It’s very calming and relaxing.”

The group hopes to give communities in need of support more “paw-ness” by sharing their love and pets through these four-legged furry friends.

Carla Pellegrini, secretary of Pets and Friends, who has been volunteering for more than five years now, believes that it is rewarding to share love with those in need and that the presence of pets has the ability to change a life.

“A lot of research shows how beneficial just being around pets is, and petting them in particular can benefit our well-being,” she said. “So at Pets and Friends, we try to bring that love and the positive impact of pet therapy to almost anyone who needs it.”

Pellegrini recalls his favorite moment of volunteering. “I will never forget that there was a time when there was a gentleman who was not unable to really control his physical movements.”

“He was rocking and shaking and really struggling to stay still, but he was petting the dog and it was so amazing to watch.”

For her, it was a highlight to see this intimate bond between dog and man. To see eyes light up both in the dog and in the person, she feels that is why the group does what it does.

The charity celebrates its 40th anniversary on September 17 in Burnaby. Although not open to the public, the group hopes to see an increase in volunteers and donations to facilitate the need for more pet therapy in the Lower Mainland.

With a team of 120 volunteers spread across Burnaby, Vancouver, Surrey, Port Moody and the North Shore, the group hopes to expand its pet therapy to other parts of British Columbia.

Although these pets and their handlers are not professionally trained in therapy, the group thoroughly reviews the behaviors and behaviors of pets under different circumstances, including a criminal record check for owners, to ensure the safety of all parties. volunteers, their pets and communities in need.

Ultimately, the goal is to impact people’s lives by sharing time and love through the four-legged friends.

“The idea is that just a little bit of sharing your time and presence in your community could have a huge impact and in the lives of the people around you,” Scaglione said.

Ahead of the 40th anniversary celebrations, you can check out the organization’s page for volunteer and donation information here.

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