“Would you like to see my dog (or cat, in some cases)?” These are the words that some 135 volunteers, leading their family pets, say to residents of nursing homes and clients of adult day care centers in Scottsdale, as well as to patients of cancer treatment centers and rehabilitation hospitals – and to some homebound individuals — 39,000 times last year.
Neal Jennings, founder and President of Pets on Wheels of Scottsdale has mobilized over 950 volunteer-pet teams during the past 15 years, to enhance the lives of those no longer able to enjoy the comforts of a normal home life. He knows that contact with animals brings back fond memories, ameliorates stress and stimulates folks who are often depressed. Also, during the past 6 years, Neal has had volunteer teams visiting 19 Scottsdale elementary schools, bringing video presentations. He even wrote a 250-page workbook called, “A Pet Visitation-Therapy Program – Starting One and Keeping it Going” so others could start programs in their communities. His web site has made the book available to groups in 25 states and 4 countries.
Neal says it best, “There’s a wonderful bond between humans and animals. Animals rely on people and return their affection without pressure, expectations, or agendas. They provide love and loyalty to their owners. And, using animals to help people is a most satisfying volunteer activity.”