Volunteers' Voice News for and about the Visiting Pet Program
February 2009 Volume 8, Issue 4

Our sincere thanks to all the volunteers and evaluation team for another successful evaluation. Our efforts benefited us with 16 new dogs. 12 new volunteers have entered the probationary phase of our program. All the volunteers did a wonderful job throughout the long day.

On Saturday, January 17, our trainers Pam Bellone and Rebecca Breaud held our New Pet/Handler Workshop. Malay Ghose Hajra with Mita and Pam with Jake served as our workshop demo teams. Our new volunteers left the workshop more confident and much more prepared to start their visiting careers. Thanks to all who attended the Recertification Workshop and assisted the new volunteers and pets.

Thanks in advance to all the volunteers who have graciously offered to mentor the newcomers. Your skills and instruction are greatly needed, and you will be helping the new volunteers and pets begin their visits on a good start. Your willingness to share your knowledge with our newest volunteers is deeply appreciated.

New this year is the online Pet/Handler Team Scoring Form, now available on the website. This will make it easier for buddies to complete their evaluation forms and get them to me quickly.


Please confirm your visits with me only by phone. You will need to give me 3 choices of dates and facilities so that I can arrange buddies for you.

Joyce Kleinfeldt, Program Coordinator

Quick Links
Visit Schedule for Spring 2009

To Joyce to schedule your visits

To the web site
Visiting Pet Program web site

In this issue


    Carl Schindler looks on as Comet gets a big hug from a resident at John Hainkel Home.

    We all know what qualities our pets have for being good pet therapists. Our pets are warm and fuzzy, they are nonjudgmental, attentive, very good listeners, and sometimes downright silly. All of these attributes help to cheer up the people they visit. But there has also been some interesting research going on regarding Animal Assisted Therapy.

    In 2004, a group of physicians in Japan evaluated the effects of a therapy dog on autonomic nervous system in normal healthy adults. They evaluated this effect by measuring heart rate variability using power spectrum analysis. This investigation involved two sessions, one session with a dog and a control session without a dog.
    Their conclusion: Animal Assisted Therapy with a dog had a positive affect by activating the effect of cardiac parasympathetic nerve activities in the heart.

    In 2007, a group of physicians in California wanted to determine the affect Animal Assisted Therapy on patients hospitalized with heart failure. Their objective was to determine if a hospital visit with a therapy dog would improve hemodynamic measures, lower neurohormone levels and decrease state anxiety in patients with advanced heart failure. Three groups were tested, one group visited with a human volunteer and her therapy dog, another group visited with a human volunteer only and the control group had "usual care" with no visit. Cardiopulmonary pressures and neurohormone levels were monitored in all patients.
    Their conclusion: Animal Assisted Therapy improves cardiopulmonary pressures, neurohormone levels and anxiety in patients hospitalized with heart failure.

    Also in 2007, a group of physicians in Greece studied the impact of Animal Assisted Activities on oncology patients undergoing chemotherapy. Two groups of patients were compared. The experimental group visited with a therapy dog and the control group did not visit with a dog. Before and after chemo both groups completed a symptom questionnaire. In addition both groups were monitored for arterial blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation.
    Their conclusion: Animal Assisted Activity during chemotherapy reduces depression of patients and increases their arterial oxygen saturation.

    In 2002, physicians with the V.A in Missouri studied the effects of Animal Assisted Therapy on loneliness in elderly in long term care facilities. The residents chosen for this study had a strong life history of emotional intimacy with pets and wished that they currently had a pet. They also completed "Loneliness Scale" questionnaires prior to beginning the study and again 6 weeks later at the end of the study. A comparison was done between the group that received Animal Assisted Therapy visits and the group that did not receive visits.
    Their conclusion: The group that received Animal Assisted Therapy visits had significantly reduced loneliness scores in comparison with the group that did not receive visits.

    When we visit with our pets, we witness firsthand the positive impact our pets have on people's lives. But these types of research are very important for the growth and longevity of Animal Assisted Therapy. I hope you found these examples as interesting as I did.

    Claire Sommers


    Volunteers and pets swarm Soniat Playground for the annual Volunteer Appreciation Picnic.

    Celebrating 22 years of the
    Visiting Pet Program!

    Come on out and join the fun and help VPP celebrate 22 wonderful years. Soniat Playground in Harahan will again be the site for the VPP Volunteer Appreciation Day on Sunday, March 22, 2009 from 1pm-3pm. A map to Soniat Playground is linked below.

    All VPP volunteers, certified and probationary, and their family and guests are invited. VPP dogs that have completed certification are invited to attend. Unfortunately, we cannot invite dogs that are not certified through our program. All dogs must remain on leash throughout the entire event and, just like on visits, only one dog per handler. As always, flexi-leashes are not permitted. Certified volunteers are asked to wear their green VPP shirts.

    Bring the kids and your own chairs or a blanket to sit on and enjoy an afternoon of fun. VPP will provide sandwiches, snacks and soft drinks. We will have access to two covered shelters and a great play gym for the kids.

    Please confirm your attendance (note how many family members will attend) by email to paws4visit@gmail.com. To be sure there is enough food for everyone, we need an accurate head count no later than March 15th.

    We look forward to seeing everyone!

    Map to Soniat Playground, Harahan


    Kimberley Clayton with Kubby, the chocolate Lab Kimberley is a CPA and Comptroller for Lauricella Land Company. She belongs to a local AKC Agility Club. She enjoys dog park hikes. Kubby goes to work with Kimberley every day. He is active in obedience and agility, and enjoys doing tricks.

    Leigh Crawford with Zeke, the Golden/Lab mix Leigh operates the Elysian Fields Inn. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and art. Zeke attends the Barkus Parade yearly. He likes going to music events, and loves getting a belly rub.

    Midge Donald with Blue, the Weimaraner Midge is retired from Citibank New York. She is a volunteer with the Audubon Zoo. Midge enjoys attending NBA games. Blue likes going for neighborhood walks and trips to Petco.

    Susan Falcon with Calli, the white Peke-A- Poo Susan is a self-employed CPA. She enjoys reading and running. Calli likes attending soccer events and sporting events. She enjoys meeting people.

    Tamara Fink with Nikki, the Dachshund/Chihuahua mix Tamara is a realtor with Latter and Blum in Mandeville. She is an avid animal lover, with dogs, guinea pigs, birds, and fish. She is a volunteer crisis line counselor at a battered women's shelter. Nikki was adopted from a Florida animal shelter. She likes seeing the neighbors and greets visitors to the home.

    Joel Lippincott with Candy, the Golden Retriever Joel works in the billing office for a dermatology group. She is a mother of 3. Candy shares his home with several cats. He likes going to dog parks.

    Monique McKenna with Jazz and Meghan, the German Shepherds Monique is a non- practicing attorney who has raised three Seeing Eye Dogs. She also volunteers with STAIR and an ESL program with Associated Catholic Charities. Jazz and Meghan have attended obedience classes and have had extensive Seeing Eye training.

    Cindy Nolan with Dexter, the yellow Lab Cindy is a dental hygienist. She is active with her church's youth group. Dexter has taken obedience classes. He likes going for daily walks along the levee and at dog parks.

    Lyn O'Brien with Oscar, the Mixed Breed Lyn is a legal secretary for a Downtown law firm. She has volunteered for Ochsner, LePetite Theatre, Big Sisters, and other groups. Oscar was found as a young pup wandering the streets. He found a terrific home with Lyn. Oscar enjoys participating in the Krewe of Barkus Parade.

    Maria Thornton and Craig Miller with Sable, the Pomeranian Maria works at Magnolia School, with adults with disabilities. She makes jewelry in her spare time, and enjoys reading. Craig is a process server for Support Enforcement Services. He also volunteers at Magnolia School. He enjoys cooking and running. Sable enjoys walks in the neighborhood and going to Petco and the park.

    Julie-Ann Wegmann with Oscar, the Maltipoo Julie-Ann is a teacher of special needs children. She enjoys biking and walking. Oscar has taken an obedience class. He enjoys doing tricks. Oscar likes going for walks and meeting people.


    Leslie Davis with Bacchus, the black/tan Smooth Standard Dachshund. Bacchus is the son of Leslie's red Dachshund, Zebrina, who is a regular visitor at John Hainkel Home.

    Tobi Provenzano with Cayenne, the Australian Shepherd mix. Tobi visited with her dog Maddie, who passed away two years ago. Tobi is happy to have another dog to put through the program.

    Fay Schultz with Betty Boop, the Chihuahua mix. Fay visits at Ochsner with her Shih-Tzu, Mozart and at Waldon Health Care with JJ, the Toy Poodle. Betty Boop is the newest member of Fay's family.

    Stacey Warnke and Terri Joia with Angelle, the Corgi mix. Stacey and Terri visit Ville Ste Marie with their cat Sauvi. Angelle will join her cat "sister" on visits.


    As an opportunity to share our work and our wonderful animals with the community, the Visiting Pet Program is going to create a 2010 calendar with photos of our very special pets.

    In an effort to find the best photos for the calendar, we will offer a photo contest. Rules of the contest are listed below. Get your camera out and start shooting. It's a wonderful opportunity for Fido's 15 minutes (or 12 months) of fame!

    Serving as independent judge for the photos will be professional pet photographer, Scott Stuntz. He will select the 12 monthly photos as well as the cover shot.

    Entrance Rules:
    All photo entries received will become property of the Visiting Pet Program and can be used for promotional purposes. Neither the pet nor the owner of the pet will receive monetary compensation for appearance in the calendar. By submitting your photo and payment, you agree to the above.

    If your pet's photo is included in the calendar you will receive a free calendar and 12 months of bragging rights! Good luck!

    • Photos are due on or before March 1, 2009. Photos should be submitted in digital format to paws4visits@gmail.com. Only emailed photos will be accepted.
    • Photos must be in a high resolution digital format. Calendar format will be 8in x 10in, landscape. Your photo should be able to be blown up to that size without distortion or pixilation.
    • Photos done by professional photographers will not be accepted.
    • Currently active Visiting Pets only. No retirees, no probationary pets.
    • Photos must be of pet(s) only. No people or non-VPP pets may be included
    • One photo submission per pet
    • Entrance fee is $25.00 per photo. Payment will be accepted through PayPal or via check mailed to 5831 S Johnson St., NOLA, 70125. Photos and your payment MUST be received no later than March 1st. Do Not Mail Photo
    • Winners will be announced at the Visiting Pet Program Volunteer Appreciation Picnic on Sunday, March 22, 2009.


    A donation
    was received from the children of
    Bud and Winnie Lee
    in honor of their parents, and in memory of
    Gunny, Jazz, and Buster

    Donations were received in memory of
    Carrie Neyland's dog
    Claire Sommers, Lee and Tom Gaffney
    and Kim Pizzo.

    A donation was received from
    Tom and Lee Gaffney
    in memory of
    Pat Devnoodt's dog,

    A donation was received
    in honor of
    Annemarie and Bert Fisher and their dogs
    Lexi and Lucy
    Derrick Smith.

    A donation was received from
    Sue and Bob Wood
    in memory of former VPP member
    Esther Carlisle

    About the Visiting Pet Program

    The Visiting Pet Program is an all volunteer 501 (C)(3) non-profit animal assisted therapy organization serving Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes.

    For the past 20 years, the volunteers of the VPP have lived up to their motto of "Bringing Love and Leaving Smiles" to the residents of nursing homes and hospitals.

    Our literacy project, Reading to Rover, offers young readers the opportunity to practice their reading aloud skills to the gentle therapy dogs.

    If you would like to make a donation to the Visiting Pet Program, please click on the button below or mail your check to 5831 S. Johnson Street, New Orleans, LA 70125. Please note if your donation is in memory of a person or a pet. We will be happy to send an acknowledgment of your donation to the family. Please include the name and address to send the acknowledgment. Because we are a 501(C)(3) organization, your donation is tax deductible. We are an all volunteer organization. Your donation goes directly to the support of our mission.
    Thank you

    Take Note!


    VPP Volunteer Appreciation Day
    Mark your calendar now and plan to bring the whole family
    to the VPP picnic.
    Sunday, March 22nd
    Soniat Playground

    New Volunteer Orientation
    Saturday, June 20, 2009 10am-12noon
    Sunday, July 19, 2009
    Harahan Senior Center
    100 Elodie
    Pre-registration required
    Contact Claire Sommers to register at
    paws4visits@gmail.com or

    Reading To Rover
    On the East Bank
    Held on the third Tuesday of each month
    at the East Bank Regional Library
    4747 W. Napoleon in Metairie

    On the West Bank
    Held on the second Sunday of each month
    2751 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey
    from 2:00pm-3:00pm

    Events are now being planned in conjuction with the STAIR program. Please contact Fay for upcoming times and locations

    Contact Fay Schultz
    to confirm your slot at any of these
    Reading To Rover


    to Carrie Neyland
    who lost
    her beloved Golden Retriever,
    in December.
    Brinkley had been a visiting pet since December, 2003, and was a regular visitor at Magnolia School. Brinkley will be deeply missed by all who knew him. Our deepest sympathies to Carrie on the loss of her dear boy.


    Nina and Al Bourgeois
    announced the retirement of their 12 year old Maltese,
    Gateau in January.
    Gateau had been a visiting pet since December, 1999, and was a regular visitor at Malta Park. Nina and Al have been VPP volunteers since December, 1996. They have recently moved to Lafayette.

    Our thanks
    to these dedicated volunteers
    and their amazing pet
    for their many
    years of service.
    Best wishes to you in your new home. We'll miss you!

    Four Paws Salute

    To VPP member
    Rebecca Breaud

    After many years of devoted service, Rebecca has decided to step down from the Board of Directors as our Orientation/Evaluation Coordinator. Rebecca has had the responsibilities of putting together the Orientations, Evaluations and Workshops for the last 5 years. With her incredible animal knowledge, wit, and amazing teaching skills, Rebecca has single-handedly trained tons of our volunteers and raised the level of professionalism in our organization.

    Fortunately, Rebecca will continue her membership, serving as a Buddy and continuing to teach at the Orientations, Evaluations and Workshops. We are so thankful for her continued participation, but will greatly miss her involvement with the Board of Directors.

    Rebecca, it's hard to say thank you for all you have given the organization that means so much to so many, but, thank you for a job really well done!

    Quick Links...

    Visiting Pet Program Web site

    Monthly Schedules for and Spring 2009

    Help VPP by shopping through IGive

    Shop for great therapy dog books at Dogwise

    phone: 504-866-2532 Fax: 504-866-9823

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