Today’s guest was Stephanie Perkins, a Director at Tallahassee Memorial Heathcare (TMH). Stephanie directs the Animal Therapy program for TMH. They currently have more than 200 volunteer teams that include dogs, cats, bunnies, parrots and horses along with their human handlers. They also had an Alpaca in their program.
Stephanie adopted a shelter dog in 2001, named Kenya, who started her on the road to animal therapy volunteering. Her role as a volunteer led to a parttime position and now her fulltime position as Director. TMH offers a variety of different types of therapy programs for all ages. One of my favorites is the R.E.A.D. (Reading Education Assistance Dogs) Program where children are encouraged to read to dogs. The R.E.A.D. program is an international program that results in improved self-confidence as well as enhanced reading and speaking skills. They also have a Courthouse Therapy Program, programs for Seniors and an Animal Assisted Therapy program.
The year 2020 has changed the way the therapy teams are interacting with the people they serve. Many of the visits are now done virtually through Zoom visits and interactions. They are hoping to return to a time when the animals and their handlers can interact more directly so everyone can go back to getting a puppy or kitty hug or solace from petting a sweet bunny.
The TMH Animal Therapy program is the only one of its kind in the Big Bend region of Florida. They have been fostering the therapeutic bond between people and animals since 2005.
If you are interested in learning more about TMH’s Animal Therapy Program, visit their website. They have lots of information including videos. Volunteers can fill out an application online.
If you love animals, make sure your pets are protected with a Pet Trust. Animal Care Trust USA is dedicated to keeping loved pets in loving homes. Happy Tails!