HANFORD - Feeling down? The answer may be some PAWSitive pet therapy.
The Valley Animal Haven and Adoption Center, a no-kill shelter in Lemoore, and volunteers from Kohl’s department store teamed up to bring pet therapy to the Remington retirement community on Wednesday.
Pam Brasil, executive director of Valley Animal Haven, said the shelter was awarded a grant through the Kohl’s Cares program, which provides grants to nonprofits in each store’s respective communities.
That allowed Brasil to look into going out and giving seniors time with animals from the shelter.
Brasil said there are plenty of benefits of being around animals including having companionship as well as helping with high blood pressure.
“For me, I know when I’m having a bad day, having my dogs around me helps me feel better,” Brasil said.
Brasil said she reached out to the Remington after having numerous residents there adopt pets from Valley Animal Haven.
“We contacted them to see if they’d let us come down,” Brasil said. “If seniors respond well to it, it’s something we’d like to do on a regular basis.”
Brasil and the volunteers brought five dogs and a cat from Valley Animal Haven to the Remington with more than a dozen residents coming out to pet the animals and to talk with the volunteers.
With the Remington allowing residents to own pets that meet a size limit, Brasil made sure to bring along animals that were under the size restrictions just in case anyone wanted to adopt one of the animals that visited.
Margaret Lowe was one of the Remington’s residents who visited with the animals from Valley Animal Haven. She knew the benefits of having a pet and owns a cat.
“They’re a lot of company,” she said.
Wednesday’s pet therapy session was a first for Brasil and Valley Animal Haven.
Brasil is planning on reaching out to other retirement communities and trying to make visits at other places in the area.
“We’ve enjoyed hearing their stories of their pets,” Brasil said. “We know animals are wonderful therapy and it doesn’t have to be a cat or a dog.”
Tatiana Garcia, who is an assistant store manager at Kohl’s, was one of the volunteers who showed up for Wednesday’s pet therapy session.
Garcia said nearly 60 percent of Kohl’s employees participate in the store’s volunteer program, which tries to help with two or three events a month.
Garcia said some of the events they’ve helped with before include Relay for Life and Fill the Boot.
On Kohl’s web site, the company said its employees donated more than 500,000 hours for community service in 2016 alone.
While doing something positive for the community, Garcia said it’s a chance to get to know co-workers out of work.
“You really do get to know your co-workers on another level,” Garcia said. “It helps build a good camaraderie by doing something positive together by reaching out to the community.”