Animals help lift a person’s mood.
That being the case, spirits will be high as organizers conduct the eighth annual Pet Therapy Day from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Community Arts Center of Cambria County, 1217 Menoher Blvd., Westmont.
“It’s a wonderful family day when we can demonstrate the importance of how animals can help improve physical and emotional well-being,” said Christine Fogle of Richland Township, event coordinator and owner of Golden Girls Pet Therapy.
“Each year we have added new things for people to enjoy.”
A new attraction will be a pet parade, which will step off at 1:30.
“The Rev. Marty Wright, pastor of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Johnstown, will be on hand to bless the animals prior to the parade,” Fogle said.
Leading the parade will be Alexis Nibert, 11-year-old daughter of Joseph and Heather Nibert of Westmont, who is being recognized for her work on behalf of sheltered animals.
The event also is intended to show how important the pet therapy program is to individuals in hospitals, nursing homes and people in the community.
Fogle founded Golden Girls Pet Therapy 13 years ago with golden retrievers Hannah and Gretchen, who passed away in 2007 and 2009, respectively.
“I have two dogs, Josiah and Gracie, who have carried on what my first dogs started,” Fogle said.
“We have the privilege of visiting many places as Golden Girls Pet Therapy and also have the honor to do therapy for Conemaugh Health Foundation’s Conemaugh Caring Canines.”
The program will receive proceeds from the event.
“For the first time, the event will feature live music provided by Johnny Bayush and Painted By Millions, a group that plays oldies and contemporary music,” Fogle said.
Vendors will include animal rescue groups, pet-sitting services, humane societies, Habitat for Hounds, pet products and accessories.
“We have many vendors for pets and people alike,” Fogle said.
“We also have a variety of baked goods, including gobs, cookies, cakes and pizzels.”
A Chinese auction featuring more than 50 items such as gift cards and baskets donated by area businesses will be available.
“The Classic Clowns have been there ever since we started,” Fogle said.
Another popular attraction returning will be Diamond R Enterprises and their miniature horses, giving rides to adults and children.
“We encourage everyone to bring their lawn chairs, their pets and spend the day with us,” Fogle said.
Proceeds benefit Conemaugh’s pet therapy program and are used to train and care for more therapy dogs.
“Any type of dog can be a therapy dog as long as it has the right temperament and the willingness to love the people it will visit,” Fogle said.
“The handlers do much of the basic training on their own, but we then hold a canine good citizenship class followed by a test, which we require for visiting the hospital.”
The pet therapy program promotes healing and recovery through the interaction of certified dogs with patients and their families.
The therapy dogs provide a significant healing approach to patients who suffer from chronic pain and other maladies.
The organization’s network is comprised of caring individuals who are willing to share their special animals in order to bring happiness and cheer to people.
Helene Gleason, director of volunteer services at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, said working teams of therapy dogs play beneficial roles in the healing process.
“These teams of volunteers work in outpatient areas throughout our system,” Gleason said.
That would include such departments as behaviorial medicine, transitional care, palliative care, and the John P. Murtha Neuroscience and Pain Institute in Richland Township.
“The dogs are in a controlled setting and we have stringent protocol which must be followed,” Gleason said.
“Most patients coming to our facility enjoy interacting with pets, and research shows this interaction has some healing benefits.”
What: Eighth annual Pet Therapy Day.
Where: Community Arts Center of Cambria County, 1217 Menoher Blvd., Westmont.
When: 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Animals help lift a person’s mood.
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