Therapet, an East Texas Animal Assisted Therapy nonprofit, recently began regular visits to Breckenridge Village of Tyler and the Lillie Russell Memorial Library in Lindale.
Therapet Executive Director Carianne Fisher said, “We have had a waiting list for several years because we have not had enough volunteer teams to add services to more facilities. We formed a volunteer recruitment and retention committee and we have been growing our presence on social media. The fruits of our efforts are that we can now move Breckenridge Village and the Lindale Library off of our waiting list.”
After Therapet’s first visit, Breckenridge Village resident Leigh said, “I loved loving on them! They made me feel happy and reminded me of my dog.” Jennifer said, “I really enjoyed the dogs. They were so pretty to look at and it made me feel good petting them.”
At the Lillie Russell Memorial Library, Therapet participated in the summer reading program. Parents had the opportunity to sign up for slots to have their children read to a specially trained Therapet team in a unique space in the library – a pink and brown doghouse structure. The dog house contains a special collection of books about different pets and animals, such as dogs, cats, rabbits and horses and was made possible by a partnership with Miranda Lambert’s MuttNation Foundation.
Library Director Carrie Custer explained, “We know reading to pets helps readers, especially those who are struggling, with unconditional love and friendship. We wanted a program like that for our community and our library.
Fisher said, “Several studies have found that children’s reading comprehension improves when they practice reading aloud to a dog. We think part of this may be because the dog is a non-judgmental listener and part of it just may be because it is more fun to practice with a dog.”
Although Therapet is excited to add these services, many facilities are still waiting. “Sadly, we still have nine facilities on our waiting list. We are hosting our annual Therapet Totally Unleashed event on October 14th from 6:30 -10:00 pm at K.E. Bushman’s Celebration Center in Bullard. The evening will include music by Texas Rebellion, food by 1836 Texas Kitchen, casino games, premium signature cocktails, a chance to meet some of the Therapets, and both a live and a silent auction. We hope that the funds we raise that evening will help us to train more teams so that we can move another facility or two off of the waiting list.”
When asked about how the program is being received by parents and children, Custer said, “They love it and are excited to come back! They are telling their friends and families what a great experience it is.”
Beginning in September, Therapet will be at the Lillie Russell Memorial Library two Saturday mornings each month. Therapet is currently visiting Breckenridge Village twice each month as well. “It’s good being around them, said Breckenridge Village resident Stephen, “I want Therapet to come back to BVT.”
About Breckenridge Village of Tyler:
Breckenridge Village of Tyler is a caring residential community for adults with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities. BVT programs and activities are designed to help residents develop the skills they need to achieve their God-given potential.
About Lillie Russell Memorial Library:
A 501(c)(3) non-profit library that aids the City of Lindale and LISD with literacy, the Lillie Russell Memorial Library is a place where patrons can cool off during the summer and cozy up with a book during the winter.
Formed in 1994, Therapet is the premier Animal Assisted Therapy organization in East Texas with over 100 volunteer human–animal teams bringing Health, Hope, and Healing to those in need. Therapet is located in Tyler, Texas and is a completely donor-supported, local, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.
To learn more about Therapet, please visit our website at www.therapet.org, our Facebook page, Therapet: Animal Assisted Therapy, or our Youtube Channel TherapetAAT.