The staff at HAWC strives to engage each and every child and teen staying at our Emergency Shelter. While some benefit from story time, creating art, or playing outside, others benefit from the love of a furry friend! Tori Brown, HAWC’s Children’s Services Advocate, was faced with finding new ways to engage the younger residents of the shelter, and she implemented our new pet therapy program. With more and more research going into animal assisted therapy, we were able to see the plentiful benefits that come with having this adorable new visitor at the shelter. We are happy to introduce our new friend, Ryder!

Ryder has been joining the children for story hour twice a week, as well as sticking around for a bit of play time afterward. In this time, the children can pet, play, and snuggle with him while listening to the chosen story. For many participants, simply being comforted by the presence of Ryder has benefited them in many ways.

These visits with the sweet pup have been beneficial for everyone living in our Emergency Shelter, and in particular, the children and teens, many of whom had to separate from their cherished pets at home when fleeing violence. 

“This program gives the kids a chance to reconnect with a regular pet that they know well,” said Tori. 

Additionally, taking part in pet therapy has proven to be therapeutic for children and teens who have experienced trauma. Our pet therapy program will continue to help them develop and regulate their social skills, mood, and self esteem. Welcome to the family, Ryder!