AM Buffalo


Healing hurting hearts with animals

Posted at 6:44 PM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 18:44:41-04

Paws for Love is a program where therapy pets will visit all kinds of outlets. Gina Lattuca, chief communications officer, SPCA serving Erie County says, “We have animals at funeral parlors, wakes, we have them at airports, hospitals, nursing homes, libraries, the list goes on. She says it is so much more than animals just visiting for fun, this is actually a goal -orientated therapeutic intervention. There are specific goals met depending on the location, depending on the meeting, depending on the animal.”

Gina says, “This particular kind of therapy in response to Saturday’s tragedy is really to just break down some of those barriers when it comes down to communication. We understand that there are children and adults who are having problems processing what happened on Saturday. These animals act as a communication bridge and it may not be verbal communication, it may be nonverbal communication, body language, it might be release of emotions, maybe people are having problems expressing those emotions. There is something that these animals provide, something that we can’t even begin to fully understand but it allows people to express themselves fully, even just that moment of joy, that moment of healing. Gina says, we are not naïve enough to think that the impact of a few minutes will last a lifetime, but we are there to make these repeated visits, to make the healing a little more effective, a little more efficient.”

There are many animals like Jake to provide this kind of therapy within our community. Allan Monaco, PAWS for Life volunteer, SPCA serving Erie County works with a lot of the other animals. He works with Jake but along side of him are other dogs. They have some cats in the program and they even have a bird, Mr. Bird, the cockatoo in the program. Depending on what the need is at the facility, depending on who the audience is, that’s how they determine which team might fit best.

Allan says, “Yesterday we were at the airport and President Biden flew in and of course, everyone was looking out the windows at that, but a lady had a medical problem, and we didn’t know what happened to her, but the medical staff got around her and we didn’t know if she was having a heart attack or a seizure or what, but she had two small children with there. One was a young boy; he was seven and a daughter who was four and that’s all who was traveling with her. He says they were trying to information from her, and they couldn’t because she was having this problem so the fire chief had the children taken to the United “Airlines’ conference room and they asked us if we would take the dogs down there to keep the children company and help them. Allan says it worked out great because we gave the children pictures of the dogs; they started petting them, playing with them, pulling their leashes and we gave them pictures and they calmed right down. We stayed for about an hour with the children until they rectified what they were going to do with the children and finally took them to the hospital where their mother had gone.”

Allan says they want to use that like a training thing now because they never had that before, so they thought it was great that they handled it that way and for future occurrences it may work out.

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