Reading Partners allows children to read to pets. Children who read to pets can improve their reading skills through practice as well as improve their self-esteem. Our teams are available to visit libraries, schools, book stores, or any other facility that helps children learn to love reading.
Pets for Patients is a program where pets visit hospitals, rehabilitation centers and nursing homes and other facilities. Patients who have regular visits from pets may show a marked improvement in their morale. Pet therapy has helped patients become more receptive to medical treatments and provide a calming and relaxing effect on patients. This is especially true for those patients who struggle to communicate.
Pets can help take away fear and loneliness, pain and fear and in turn cause laughter and a sense of security. Petting can also encourage the use of hands, arms, stretching and turning.
Humane Hearts Pet Therapy
Humane Hearts is a pet facilitated activity and therapy program designed to help people in care facilities reap the benefits of contact with friendly loving animals.
The Humane Hearts of the Humane Society of Forsyth County is made up of a group of trained volunteers with their pets, who visit assisted care and nursing homes, Alzheimer's care facilities, hospitals, special education classes in Forsyth County schools, and other care facilities in the community. We are also frequently asked to conduct educational programs in the schools to insure that students receive information on pet care and humane treatment of animals.
Humane Hearts' goal is to provide regular visits that enhance the physical and psychological well-being of those we visit.
The animals we use are our very own pets. Most of our pet/partner teams are made up of the volunteer and a dog, although we have had several cats, one rabbit, and several birds participate in Humane Hearts.
A key aspect of Humane Hearts is the training and selection standards. Only through training the volunteers and carefully evaluating their pets can we assure top quality pet/partner teams. Our pets must pass a health screening and must have up-to-date medical forms from their veterinarian in our files. Each also goes through a temperament, stability, and behavior test which emphasizes disposition rather than obedience. Our volunteers are also asked to go on several visits with visiting teams, without their pet to decide if the program is indeed something that they can commit to. The volunteers also attend a workshop to gather useful information about Pet Facilitated Therapy.
Volunteers are asked to visit at least once a month, although some of our member/dog teams go on several visits each month. The visits last an average of about 45 minutes. Volunteers and their pets either visit with other teams or on their own, depending on the location. After we return a few times, the people we visit begin to bond with the animals and a relationship is developed. We are currently visiting five facilities for the elderly, and 12 special education classes in Forsyth County public schools, and one girls' shelter.
Humane Hearts began visiting in our community in 1994 after carefully researching similar groups throughout the country. We began with six pet/partner teams and have grown to 29 teams.
A one time fee of $30.00 is requested for mailing, and other routine costs. $10.00 of this is dues for one year in the Humane Society of Forsyth County. If the new volunteer is already a Humane Society member, the fee is $20.00.
Benefits: The benefits of pet assisted activities/therapy are both psychological and physical. Although the benefits are observed in many ways, they cannot be measured. The animals invoke smiles and conversation from lonely or depressed persons who miss their home, their families, or pets they have left behind. Pet facilitated therapy is an unselfish area of volunteer service!