MALVERN (November 8, 2019) – Therapy animals come in all shapes and sizes, state Senator Andy Dinniman noted this week, upon meeting Bubbles, a therapy rabbit that provides companionship to senior citizens and others in need.
“You’ve heard of dog therapy, horse therapy, and cat therapy – but bunny therapy is new to even me,” Dinniman said.
Dinniman met Bubbles and Paula Kielich, President and Founder of Pals for Life, at the ribbon-cutting of Echo Lake Independent Living in Malvern. The nonprofit organization provides companion animal programs to people who need them.
Pals for Life, which has been offering pet visitation and humane education programs in the Delaware Valley since 1985, utilizes both resident animals and a unique network of “crowd-sourced” therapy animals. Through its program, animal advocates are invited and encouraged to bring their own animals for Pals for Life training. About 120 pet owners have completed the training and enlisted their animals as volunteers. Pals for Life currently accepts dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, mini horses, and pigs, but the organization is open to discussing other animals that may be suitable for therapy. In this year alone, Pals for Life conducted more than 600 visits to people in need.
Kielich highlighted those who benefit the most from the program: senior citizens and those living with disabilities.
“The mission of Pals for Life ties directly into our new understanding of therapeutic animals,” Dinniman said. “New research shows that pet animals and therapy animals can offer tremendous benefits in terms of physical, mental and emotional health and well-being.”
In addition to Bubbles, the Pals for Life Resident Therapy team includes another rabbit, Sprinkles.
Learn more about the Pals for Life mission, and how to become a volunteer, at palsforlife.org.