Pets as Pals is a therapeutic activity offered for children and adolescents by the Haven Animal Care Shelter as a community service, free of charge. In addition to providing shelter for companion animals, the Haven’s programs include educating the community about the value of animals in the human world. The pet therapy program is designed to bring about the goal of promoting respect for all of God’s creatures. The Haven has previously been involved in pet therapy programs in nursing homes and a variety of other settings. Dr. Wilbanks also incorporates pet therapy into her private practice.
The purpose of “Pets as Pals” is to provide a therapeutic activity for children with special needs. Pet therapy is especially beneficial to children who have suffered losses in their lives due to separation from family, physical or other disabilities, and other factors. Allowing children the opportunity to interact with pets facilitates the development of empathy, an important lifelong skill for children. Interaction with animals also teaches responsibility, nurturing skills, and the give and take aspect of building relationships. In return, animals provide unconditional love, companionship, and constancy.
Research shows that one determinate of later violent or criminal activity is the degree of empathy that children and young adults feel towards others. By providing a place where lessons of empathy are taught in an environment where the value of respect for all life is illustrated, we feel that The Haven provides a valuable and unique social and community service.
The Haven will offer the pet therapy program as a community service, free of charge. Referrals are accepted from community organizations, agencies, parents, and other private individuals. The pet therapy program will be conducted in an outdoor environment, on the grounds of The Haven. It is facilitated by Dr. Brenda Wilbanks and Haven volunteers.
We are in the planning stages of re-launching our therapy program. If you are interested in assisting with the Pet Therapy program, send us an email and note that you would like to help with Pet Therapy. We will include you in any correspondence regarding the program.