Dogs may be a man’s best friend but East Hampshire District Council has proved itself a loyal pal to some very special pets.
EHDC has awarded local charity Pets As Therapy a £1,000 grant to help it continue its valuable work.
Pets As Therapy brings dogs to residential homes, hospitals, schools or anywhere people might be in need of some comfort and companionship.
Dogs and cats with the calmest and most gentle temperament are chosen to be patted and stroked, helping people with issues ranging from anxiety to dementia or from poor movement to loneliness.
Patricia Bland runs the Pets As Therapy branch covering parts of East Hampshire, Surrey and West Sussex.
“Our dogs are called PAT dogs and this is exactly what the people we visit can do, pat the dog, stroke the dog, cuddle the dog and sometimes just watch the dog – all to give them a warm feeling inside,” she said.
“After all the dog doesn’t judge them, doesn’t ask difficult questions and doesn’t answer back – it is just a friend even for a short time.
“The hugely valuable social, tactile and emotional benefits the dogs bring to people shouldn’t be under-estimated.”
Pets As Therapy also provides dogs for young children learning to read. Reading to dogs instead of adults boosts their confidence, social skills and their literacy abilities.
The charity also relies on volunteers to come forward with their own pets. Currently the charity has 6,000 dogs and nearly 100 cats visiting more than 150,000 people in the UK.
Cllr Richard Millard was delighted to support the group with a £1,000 councillor grant.
He said: “They do an astonishing job and people don’t realise how much work the volunteers put in.
“It makes such a difference to people and when you see how people greet them, particularly the older people, you can see how much it means to them to be able to meet and interact with these lovely dogs for a while.”
To volunteer with Pets As Therapy or for more information go to www.petsastherapy.org