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Mansfield Magazine

Paws with Partners Increases Sense of Community in Mansfield and Arlington

Apr 04, 2016 08:53PM ● Published by Kevin

Sugar-Therapy Dog. Photo courtesy of Paws with Partners.

According to its websitePet Partners is the nation’s largest and most prestigious nonprofit registering handlers of multiple species as volunteer teams providing Animal-Assisted Interactions. "With the highest caliber curriculum in the industry, Pet Partners trains volunteers and evaluates them with their pets for visiting animal programs in hospitals, nursing homes, veterans’ centers, hospice, Alzheimer’s facilities, courtrooms, schools and other settings," the website says.

Paws with Partners is the local pet therapy group registered to the national philanthropy. We caught up with 
Abby Wilson, the coordinator ofPaws with Partners-Pet Partners, Mansfield-Arlington, to find out more about the group.

Mansfield Magazine: Tell us a little about the group, can you tell me when and how it was started?

Abby Wilson: Paws with Partners is the local pet therapy group that are made up of an handler/owner and animal that are registered with Pet Partners National Pet Therapy nonprofit organization. Each person must take a Pet Partners Workshop or Online Course and pass followed by a hands on Evaluation with their animal.  The Evaluation must be repeated every two years by the team. Seven registered Pet Partners teams formed Paws with Partners in January 2012 in Mansfield and now have fourteen.

MM: What are your goals for the group and where do you see it heading? What sort of activities will you focus on?

Wilson: Pet Partners Goals: Visiting nursing homes, memory care facilities, hospitals, hospice, and a special Read Education Assistant program in the schools that benefit with interacting with our animals. It has been proven to reduce blood pressure, lower anxiety and stress levels, increase sense of community and enjoy a loving pet.

We participate special events including Paws for Reflection Ranch in Midlothian, which is a therapeutic ranch offering activities with special needs families and Veterans and their families, Single Parent Event in Mansfield, veteran’s programs and other therapeutic program. We do speaking engagements. Also, try to have a local Pet Partners Workshop and Evaluation in Mansfield once a year. There are also several other Pet Partner groups that offer these during the year as well. They are listed on the Pet Partner website.

MM: What's something people usually assume about the group? What do people usually assume that's incorrect?

Wilson: Our pet partner is not a service dog. We explain what is the difference. Our therapy dog can be petted with permission from the handler and is not allowed in restaurants and some buildings.  A service dog should not be petted while on duty assisting his human’s needs. A service dog is allowed where ever his human goes. These dogs have to have extensive training. The therapy dogs are usually trained by their owner/handler and take obedience course.

MM: What is your personal favorite aspect of the group and your mission? 

Wilson: Sharing our pet partner with people that receive stress relief and love when going through a difficult time. Our mission is also to be available in various places that there is a need for pet therapy.

MM: What's the funniest, strangest, most unusual thing people have asked you?

Wilson: Not sure about this question. For the most part it is the joy we receive from sharing our therapy dogs with others. Seeing their love and happiness in interacting with our therapy dog is the key to our mission. Staff at the different places we go receive much needed stress relief when our therapy dog comforts them as much as the patients.

MM: Are there any recent or upcoming changes that people should know about - resources, special events, related legislation, development etc?

Wilson: Yes...

UTA

April 6 Tail Waggin Wednesday – UTA main Library   10-2pm. Students look forward to  and love interacting with the dogs for stress relief with the dogs from their studies.

May: Pet Partners Finals Week - Visit from 12-2 Wed-Friday, Mon-Wed Main Library 2nd Floor.

MANSFIELD

April 30 Pet Partners Fund Raiser- Westlake Ace Hardware on Matlock & Country Club Road, Mansfield 8:30-1:00. Treat & Bake - Proceeds will help fund the Pet Partners programs and training at the local level as well as nationally.    

June 4   2-4 pm Paws with Partners will have an Informational Meeting for anyone interested in finding out about Pet Partners therapy program. They can bring their dog and introduce them to members of the group. The members then can give suggestions on training and whether their dog would like therapy visits.  

MM: Anything else we should know about you, the group & activities, how people can get involved etc?

For more information on Pet Partners Therapy program they can contact

Petpartners@petpatners.org

Locally: abbywilson@sbcglobal.net

PLACES OUR PET PARTNERS VISIT:

MANSFIELD

Mansfield Methodist Hospital -New program started Week of March 27, 2015

Kindred-the Plaza, Brookdale Nursing Home-Broad Street & Country Club, Walnut Creek Assistant Living, Watercrest Isle, Cedar Bluff, The Pavilion

R.E.A.D PROGRAM (Reading Assistant Read Dog) Anna Mae Daulton Elem., Smith Elementary, Willie Brown Elem, St Gregory’s Anglican Church Preschool

MIDLOTHIAN

Paws for Reflection Ranch

Other

Brookdale  Assistant Living-Arlington

Texas Health Resources Hospital-HEB.

Is your group just as awesome as Paws with Partners? We'd love to chat! Contact us here to get the ball rolling.

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