Pawsitive TAILS seeks ‘exceptional pets’

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013 12:38 p.m. CDT

DeKALB – TAILS Humane Society is looking for volunteers for its Pawsitive TAILS Animal Assisted Activities Program. Made possible by a grant from the Douglas C. and Lynn M. Roberts Family Foundation, the Pawsitive TAILS program coordinates visits by volunteers and their pets to a variety of human service organizations throughout DeKalb County.

“The Pawsitive TAILS program is just beginning, but our volunteers have already succeeded in positively impacting the lives of a number of DeKalb County residents,” said Lisa Smith, the program’s coordinator. “We’re currently concentrating on assisted living facilities in the county, but once we increase the size of our volunteer base, we plan to begin providing visits to other types of human service organizations as well. We have recently expanded to include visits to Opportunity House, an organization dedicated to addressing the needs of adults with disabilities.”

Positive interactions with pets have long been shown to have health benefits including stress reduction, lower blood pressure and an increased sense of general well-being. Simply petting an animal can trigger a release of the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, which can elevate mood and have lasting positive effects.

Animal-assisted activities programs such as Pawsitive TAILS are designed to improve the quality of life through controlled interactions with specially-trained animals and their handlers. Though dogs are the most common species involved with AAA programs, cats, birds, rabbits, pot-bellied pigs and miniature horses have been highly successful participants. Pawsitive TAILS currently has a certified cat, several dogs and a duck.

If you have an exceptional pet and are interested in becoming a volunteer, contact Smith at lsmith@tailshumanesociety.org or 815-758-2457, ext. 10115. The next handler/pet evaluation session is planned for Saturday, Aug. 17 at the DeKalb County Nursing and Rehab Center. Appointments are required for this evaluation session.

For more information about TAILS Humane Society or the Pawsitive TAILS Program, go to www.tailshumanesociety.org.

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