Secondhand Hope Brings People and Animals Together

Secondhand Hope Lloyd
Lloyd, the Basset Hound, enjoying some love as part of Secondhand Hounds Secondhand Hope program

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Secondhand Hope is a very special program created by the animal welfare organization, Secondhand Hounds (SHH).  It brings together companion animals and their owners/volunteers with individuals who may not always have the chance to see and visit with pets.

The initial inspiration was to expand Secondhand Hounds current hospice program, knowing how beneficial companion animals can be to people, and, of course, vice versa.

The program brings together companion animals and their owners, who are also volunteers with SHH, with different facilities. At present, while primarily going to assisted living locations and nursing homes, the hope is to expand the outreach to others types of places, as well. The participating animals are not certified therapy animals, but instead are ones who are naturally well behaved and enjoy attention, coming from the foster program, hospice program, and adopted alumni.  They work alongside their owners, people who also want to make a different in other’s and animal’s lives and is open to any SHH volunteer.

Periodically training sessions are made available to those interested so the animals can be evaluated to see how well they will fit the program.  This includes assessment of the animal’s behavior, particularly when it involves a lot of attention and copious distractions.

Some of the locations that are involved will have multiple animals in a single visit or meet in a large group environment while others opt to do one-on-ones or individual animal visits.  The goal is to be as customized as possible, to insure that all participants, human and animal, gain the greatest benefit.  On average, each facility has four animals dedicated to them with some having one animal visit a week and other preferring all four to come at the same time.  The volunteers involved transport their own animals and SHH tries to coordinate teams to work a facilities close to their own homes.

Seconhand Hope Boone
Boone, the cat, has a little cuddle time with a Heritage resident

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SHH is currently in talks with one of the area school systems to start up a “Children Reading to Dogs” program, as  an adjunct to Secondhand Hope, in addition to offering animal care classes, field trips to our rescue office, and general rescue education to students.  Although the program is just three months old, they have had such an incredibly positive response from everyone, participants and the public, they are eager and open to having more opportunities come their way and looking to create more partnerships.  In fact, they currently have a waiting list of volunteers and animals wanting to be a part of the program, so they are actively seeking more places to visit.  SHH wants the program to be accessible to just about everyone, keeping it free to participate and welcoming anyone who would benefit from companion animal interaction.

As shared on their website, Secondhand Hounds lists the following as just some of the scientifically-proven benefits of companion animal interaction:

Physical Health; lowers blood pressure, improves cardiovascular health, releases endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect, diminishes overall physical pain,the act of petting produces and automatic relaxation response, reducing the amount of medication some folks need

Mental Health; lifts spirits and lessens depression, decreases feelings of isolation and alienation, encourages communication, provides comfort, increases socialization, reduces boredom, lowers anxiety, reduces loneliness

The ultimate goal for this program is to one day have it become a full-fledged, certified therapy animal program.  In the interim, they are happy to be able to bring a bit of sunshine, and a lot of love, into the lives of those who are engaged in the program.

 

Secondhand Hounds

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