Pets and Wellness for People is trying to bring comfort to individuals through their pet therapy sessions.
Pet therapy relies on animals as a therapeutic tool to bring joy to people dealing with mental health issues who may not have access to pets in a relaxing environment.
Holly Hashimi is a volunteer with PAWS and she tells Mix News that there are many benefits to pet therapy.
“Some studies say that petting an animal can lower your blood pressure and a lot of people find it a lot easier to relate to an animal than with people. You’ll see nowadays, in courtrooms, they’ll have therapy dogs in there with kids helping them testify to give them that courage and comfort.”
PAWS for people is an organization that brings pets and people together for comfort, interaction, stimulation and joy in a safe and relaxing atmosphere.
They focus on a holistic approach to improving mental health through the help of some four-legged furry friends.
Hashimi feels it’s a healthy alternative to traditional, professional therapy.
“Some people might not be open to speaking with a professional for mental health issues. So, it’s kind of an unobtrusive, safe, nonjudgmental way to find that acceptance and maybe some stress relief you’re looking for. I’ve never seen a judgmental dog myself.”
Pets and Wellness for People operates under the umbrella of the Canadian Mental Health Association and receives funding from the United Way.
Pet therapy has existed in Fort McMurray since 1989 and has been used as a therapeutic agent to improving mental health.
Hashimi says the great thing about these animals – is the love they show you regardless of how you’re feeling.
“Sometimes people need that comfort of security of an animal. Not being alone and again a nonjudgmental being will be there to love you regardless of if you’re breaking down or even if you’re just having a bad day.”
The sessions take place at the Jubilee Plaza in McMurray Experience, every Wednesday in June from 6 to 8 p.m.
For more information head to the Paws for People Facebook Page.