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Animal-assisted therapy program sets meeting at NSCC for potential volunteers

An elementary school student reads to a "Human Animal Bond in Tennessee" dog. HABIT animals wear the program's red bandanna during animal-assisted therapy visits.

An elementary school student reads to a “Human Animal Bond in Tennessee” dog. HABIT animals wear the program’s red bandanna during animal-assisted therapy visits.

Carter Countians who’d like to lend a paw to an innovative therapy program can learn more Monday when Human Animal Bond in Tennessee holds a meeting at Northeast State Community College.
“HABIT,” an animal-assisted therapy program of the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine, has organized therapy at more than 40 East Tennessee sites, including a number in Sullivan and Washington counties.
The program enlists volunteers and their dogs, cats, rabbits, horses and even dolphins to provide animal-assisted activities – essentially visiting with animals – and therapy.
The program sponsors animal-assisted therapy programs for all ages in settings such as nursing homes, retirement homes and assisted living centers, hospitals, physical rehabilitation centers and schools.
Monday’s meeting is a free informational session for anyone interested in becoming a volunteer. The session will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30 for registration. The meeting will be held in room L106 at the Northeast State library.
During Monday’s meeting, a HABIT coordinator will explain what she is looking for in dogs, cats and rabbits as potential animal-assisted therapy partners. Attendance at an informational meeting is required before a person can become a HABIT volunteer and before a facility can partner with HABIT, but attendance does not imply any obligations.
Do not bring pets to this meeting.
This meeting is open to anyone with a general interest in animal-assisted therapy. While there is no fee or advanced registration required, those “interested should call the HABIT office 865-974-5633 or email habit-et@utk.edu if you plan to attend to ensure enough handouts are available.
For more information and directions, contact East Tennessee HABIT Program Coordinator Ruth Sapp either habit-et@utk.edu or at 865-974-5633.
The program’s website is www.vet.utk.edu/habit.