PVM Pets for People Club Fosters Growth and Good Works
Thanks to Purdue Veterinary Medicine’s Pets for People Club, residents at facilities like Bickford Senior Living in Lafayette, Ind., got special doses of joy in the form of visits by furry friends this spring. The club grew this school year, according to President Jessica Sturdevant Spake of the DVM Class of 2015, enabling it to share the joy and health benefits of animals with more people. “This semester we had 14 registered teams available to volunteer in the community, in addition to being full-time veterinary students,” Jessica said. The teams visited local schools and libraries in addition to assisted living homes. The club also hosted lectures on topics related to the human-animal bond and animal behavior with the help of its advisors, Director of the Center for the Human Animal Bond Alan Beck and Assistant Professor of Animal Behavior Niwako Ogata.
Club members and their pets become Registered Therapy Animal Teams through the organization Pet Partners. Jessica said the club helped members train for the evaluations and covered all costs associated with registering with their personal pets. “At the beginning of the school year we had five registered therapy animal teams, but nine new teams went through the registration process in the fall.”
During the club’s first visit to Bickford on a Saturday in February, residents spent the afternoon telling the therapy animal teams stories about the pets they used to have and their favorite breeds. Teams also visited special needs children at Wainwright Middle School in Tippecanoe County twice a month for a read to the animals program that enables them to read in a setting where they are not judged for messing up and can build confidence in their reading skills. The club also was involved in a children’s reading program at the West Lafayette Public Library, and started arranging regular visits with lU Arnett Hospital in Lafayette. The first team to complete the set-up process at the hospital was veterinary student Heather Holzhauer of the DVM Class of 2015 and her pit bull Breeze. “Heather loves seeing the patients’ eyes light up when she and Breeze walk into their rooms,” Jessica said.
The pace did not slow any even as the spring semester drew to a close. Additional activities and accomplishments of the club include:
- Regular visits to Digby Assisted Living in Lafayette
- Participated in activities associated with the first Purdue Day of Giving (see story in this issue)
- Volunteered at the annual Trails of Hope camp for grieving children and teens
- Received the Purdue University 2014 Community Engagement and Involvement Award
To learn more about the Pets for People club, visit their SCAVMA page.