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The power to heal

Therapy pets offer more than just hugs By Pamela A. Keene Photos courtesy Happy Tails A visit by a pet can change the life of a nursing home resident, a child with special needs or a hospital patient. A gentle pat on the head or the sound of a cat purring contentedly can make the difference in the well-being of a patient. “The power of connection is amazing and hard to describe,” says Christy Morrison with Happy Tails Pet Therapy, an Atlanta-based organization that brings pet-owner volunteers and their pets together to give emotional, physical and social support to people of all ages. “An elderly patient who won’t be verbal with a nurse or family member is more likely to open up to a dog or cat. Or they may be more willing to get out of bed and walk if they can take a dog with them. It’s incredible to watch how a person will light up when our Happy Tails volunteers 14 | HOME | April 2018

and their pets come into the room.” Happy Tails volunteer teams of pet owners and their pets visit with special-needs children, hospital patients, nursing home residents and schools to bring unconditional love and a chance to connect. Research shows that dogs and cats can be a great stress reliever during doctors’

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