P.E.T. P.A.L.S. animal therapy looking for new volunteers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

P.E.T. P.A.L.S. animal therapy looking for new volunteers

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Science proves contact with animals is therapeutic, which is one of the many reasons P.E.T. P.A.L.S. visits numerous nursing homes, hospitals, group homes and schools in the Cedar Valley.

P.E.T. P.A.L.S. is a non-profit, animal assisted activity and therapy program.

"It brings me joy to make people happy and it does Zoey too, I can tell," said Terry Hertges.

Terry Hertges and her dog joined P.E.T. P.A.L.S. about a year and a half ago. Hertges' mom was actually one of the first members of the group, which is celebrating its 30 anniversary this year.

This day, P.E.T. P.A.L.S. volunteers are at the North Star Brain Injury Program in Waterloo.

"We have even some of the clients that lay on the floor so they can get really close to the animals. It's a positive thing for all the clients here," said Chris Gengler with North Star.

Another volunteer, Donna Rastetter and her dog K8 joined P.E.T. P.A.L.S. about two years ago.

"They like you to visit twice a month. It doesn't have to be a dog. It could be a cat. We have a goldfish that visits," said Rastetter.

Visits typically last about 30 minutes, and as Terry Hertges knows, the impact these animals have is priceless.

"We were leaving and one of the nurses said let me go get so and so and they did and that person talk to Zoey and talked right to her, and when we left the nurse said that person hardly spoke a word since they'd been there," said Hertges.

Both Terry Hertges and Donna Rastetter encourage pet owners to consider volunteering with P.E.T. P.A.L.S.

"It's a rich, rewarding experience and well worth the time. It's so much more than you think it is going in to it," said Donna Rastetter.

Joining P.E.T. P.A.L.S. requires a two to three hour training program and a temperament evaluation for your pet.

After being under the umbrella of the Cedar Bend Humane Society, P.E.T. P.A.L.S. got its own non-profit status last year. For more information, you can contact 319-232-6887 or click here.

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