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Paws 4 Healing Pet Therapy

Jul 22, 2019 11:00AM ● By Emily Miranda

Power of Pets

August 2019 
Story by Emily Miranda

PAWS 4 HEALING is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to helping people heal through the unconditional love of pets. The nonprofit group uses animal-assisted activities and therapy services in hospitals, schools and various  social service agencies, and since its inception in 2003, it has expanded to 10 chapters throughout Southern California. 

The generosity of members and charitable donations has allowed the organization to bring comfort to people in hospitals, nursing homes, assisted-living facilities, schools, children's centers and homes for people who have experienced domestic violence.
Some might automatically think of dogs when hearing “therapy animals,” but Paws 4 Healing uses other domestic animals, such as cats and rabbits, to bring joy and healing to those they visit. Sometimes the animals are used to help patients in rehabilitation centers work toward accomplishing certain goals. For example, a therapist might use a cat to help a patient improve their motor skills by having them buckle a collar on and off, or having them open a bag of kitty treats to feed to the cat. 

Another example might be using a dog to motivate patients recovering from a stroke who have trouble with balance. By placing the dog on a table, the patient is motivated to stand up to pet the dog, and might even be asked to walk the dog a short distance in order to regain confidence while rebuilding their balance.

Not only do the Paws 4 Healing teams make pet therapy visits, they also attend a variety of events, conferences, fairs, parades and expos to bring awareness to and further the mission of healing body, mind and soul through the power of pets. Attending such events broadens the organization's network, while granting it more opportunities to share stories of working with pets and educating others on the benefits of pet therapy. •

Tulare County Chapter: