Bree & Tyler

                   Volunteer Therapy Dogs

Therapy Dogs provide unconditional love and warmth at our shelter program. When someone loses their home, they don't leave with any comforts of home – sometimes just belongings in a plastic bin, suitcase, or plastic bag. Therapy dogs can provide great companionship and be a friend to everyone. Bree and Tyler, unrelated 6-year-old Golden Retrievers, help to provide the normalcy so desperately needed during this traumatic time.

 

Case managers support the families and children, and Bree and Tyler are present to “help,” offering a distraction from reality and a chance to relax. Anyone can benefit from the unique animal-to-human bond. The non-judgmental ears of a therapy dog can be just the ticket for helping with the trauma of homelessness. Therapy dogs have been demonstrated to improve human cardiovascular health, reduce stress, decrease loneliness and depression, and improve social interactions. Dogs are not only able to form a special bond with humans; they provide a sense of security and emotional support for the families and children coping with fears and insecurities associated with homelessness including anxiety, loneliness, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression.
 

It is important to recognize the difference between therapy dogs, emotional support dogs and service dogs. While similarities exist, they are three very different categories. Bree and Tyler are certified therapy dogs, not service dogs or emotional service dogs. Service dogs are not

viewed as pets, and they require specific disability-related training to fulfill their role. There are many different types of service

dogs, such as mobility, guide, medical alert, hearing, psychological, and many others.  To be considered a service dog per the

standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the dog’s owner must have a life-limiting disability, the dog must be trained to

recognize and respond to this disability by doing work or performing a task. Also, the dog must not cause disruptions in public.

 

Service dogs are the only type of assistance animal to have the legal right to visit public places with owners, regardless of pet

policies. Service dogs can also accompany owners wherever the owner goes, including airplanes, trains, and buses.

Emotional support dogs provide emotional or therapeutic support for their owner but do not qualify as service dogs.  Like other

medical solutions, an emotional support animal must be prescribed by a licensed mental health professional. To get an Emotional

support dog, one must be diagnosed with a disabling condition and limited in some aspect of their life.

For these folks, emotional support dogs are important and assist with how they deal with disabling conditions. Unlike service dogs, emotional support dogs are not trained to do specific tasks, like pressing an alert button when they sense an oncoming seizure or diabetic issue.   Emotional support dogs serve a basic, yet but very important function: to provide comfort to their owners.

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The biggest difference in duties is that our therapy dogs provide service to many people beyond just their owners. Our dogs have provided comfort to a child with autism, and psychological support for adults and children thrust into unsettling homeless situations. Bree and Tyler, are both certified therapy dogs who were rescued from potential homeless situations. This makes them a perfect fit for their role at Family Promise of Warren County, providing a sense of comfort, confidence, and companionship. 

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Mollie, our first therapy dog

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