Volunteers' Voice News for and about the Visiting Pet Program
February 2010 Volume 9, Issue 4

Our sincere thanks to all the volunteers and evaluation team for another successful evaluation. Our efforts benefited us with 18 new dogs and 1 cat. 14 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. Rebecca with Lily Beth 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 Barbara by email only. You will need to give me 3 choices of dates and facilities so that I can arrange buddies for you.

Claire Sommers, President

Quick Links
Visit Schedule for Spring 2010

To Claire to schedule your visits

To the web site
Visiting Pet Program web site

In this issue


    It's that time of year again. The VPP Volunteer Appreciation Day Picnic and Award ceremony is Sunday March 14, 2010 from 1pm-3pm. Please come on out and join the fun at the Soniat Playground in Harahan. A map to Soniat Playground is linked below.

    All human VPP volunteers, certified and probationary, and their family, kids 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. Dogs that are still in the probationary phase are not allowed to attend. 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.

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

    Please confirm your attendance (note how many guests will attend) by email to paws4visits@gmail.com To be sure there is enough food for everyone, we need an accurate head count no later than March 4th, 2010.

    We look forward to seeing everyone!
    On behalf of the Board of Directors

    Claire Sommers

    Map to Soniat Playground, Harahan


    Jeanette Albert with Toby, the Yorkshire Terrier. Jeanette is a registered nurse and is employed with the Tulane Medical School Physician Group. Jeanette is also a former member of the VPP and we welcome her back. Toby loves his twice a day walks in the park.

    Brenda Becnel with Bindi, the Golden Retriever Mix. Brenda is an assistant branch manager for a local bank and in her spare time enjoys activities with her dog. Bindi enjoys being outside, whether at an outdoor concert or for a three mile jog.

    Kathleen Caulkins with Jazz, the Standard Poodle. Kathleen is an administrative assistant with the F.A.A. In her spare time she enjoys knitting and sewing. Jazz is very playful and enjoys the dog park. He will greet you with a high five.

    Creevy Clay with Mostley, the Papillon/Sheltie Mix.Creevy is a former tennis teaching pro and an active volunteer with the Milne Home for Women. Mostley has on occasion accompanied Creevy at Milne Home and the women love her. Mostley enjoys meeting people, especially at the Metairie Road parades.

    Christna Fay with Taiki, the Golden Retriever . Christina, an attorney, is active at her church as well as her childrens school. Taiki has travelled with his family since being a puppy and loves to take long walks.

    Patricia Fox with Cody, the Lab Mix . Patricia, an attorney, has been active with theraputic riding programs and loves to ride horses and show them. Cody loves people and has travelled to Ocala, Forida for a horse show.

    Cindy Lemoine with Feeney, the Longhaired Chihuaha . Cindy is a legal secretary and serves on the firm's fundraising committee. Cindy is also an avid reader and enjoys travelling. Feeney weighs 8 lbs. and loves to be held. She also enjoys long walks and visiting the pet store.

    Darla Leonard with Rafael, the Goldendoodle . Darla is a controller for a hair salon in NYC. Locally, Darla is active in animal rescue with her grandson. Rafael loves children and walks in the French Quarter. Every year Rafael participates in the Barkus Parade.

    Janine McGuire with Carly, the Lab Mix. Janine is a stay at home Mom and volunteers at her childrens school. She enjoys fishing, cooking, racing and spending time with her family. Carly has attended Basic Obedience Training with VPP member Connie Back. She also enjoys football games and the Krewe of Barkus Parade.

    Geriann Mitchell with Cindy, the Yellow Lab . Geriann is a self-employed accountant. Hobbies include reading and needlepoint. Cindy loves to be petted and enjoys playing with Geriann's grandchildren. reading.

    Donald Paxton with Bella, the Chihuahua .Donald is a retired CEO of the Red Cross and at the present time manages several properties. Bella is a graduate of obedience class. She loves people and enjoys doing tricks. Bella goes everywhere with Donald.

    Nevada Paxton with Mackie, the ShihTzu.Nevada is a writer and works at home. She loves to paint, read and work in her garden. Mackie attended obedience classes as a puppy and loves to go out for walks.

    Monica Stephens with Pinot, the Pomeranian.Monica works in Hammond running a company that services commercial kitchen equipment. Monica is a former member of the VPP and we welcome her back. Pinot weighs 7 lbs. and loves outdoor activities, including pet festivals.

    Venita Yancey with Snoball, the Peekapoo .Venita moved to the New Orleans area a year ago from Nevada. Venita is aware of the importance of pet visits as she and her pet have visited a family member many times at a nursing home. Snoball has been a seasoned traveller since being a puppy, making trips by car and airplane. Snoball is also lucky as she accompanies Venita to work everyday.


    Pam Bellone with Zip, the German Shorthaired Pointer. Pam is an active Board member of the VPP. She also enjoys photography. Zip loves outdoor activities, including Pet Fest, Delgado Health Fair and plenty of walks.

    Nancy Feild with Delta Dawn, the Bichon Frise. Nancy is a retired librarian and loves pets. Delta has attended group training classes and enjoys being petted and loves people.

    Delia Hardie with Lallie, the Airedale Terrier. Delia is the VPP photographer at our evaluations. She is also active with Airedale Rescue and on the board of Poydras Home. Lallie loves to socialize, having been to Covenant Home and visits to the pet store. She also enjoys walks in Palmer Park.

    Jackie Innerarity with Itsie Bitsy, the Pitt Mix. Jackie is a self-employed consultant and graphic designer. Jackie was very active with animal rescue during Katrina. Itsie loves to attend outdoor events such as Pet Fest and pet parades.

    Marcia Legendre with Beibei, the Himalayan Cat . Marcia is a tax account at Tulane University and enjoys Jazzercise. Beibei, a rescue, is sweet, friendly and cuddly. She's also a gentle cat.

    cat eating plant

    With various dangers lurking in corners and cabinets, the home can be a minefield of poisons for our pets. In 2009, the ASPCAs Animal Poison Control Center (APCC) in Urbana, IL, handled more than 140,000 cases of pets exposed to toxic substances, many of which included everyday household products. Dont leave it up to Fido or Fluffy to keep themselves safe. Below is a list of the top 10 pet poisons that affected our furry friends in 2009.

    Human Medications
    For several years, human medications have been number one on the ASPCAs list of common hazards, and 2009 was no exception. Last year, the ASPCA managed 45,816 calls involving prescription and over- the-counter drugs such as painkillers, cold medications, antidepressants and dietary supplements. Pets often snatch pill vials from counters and nightstands or gobble up medications accidentally dropped on the floor, so its essential to keep meds tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets.

    In our effort to battle home invasions by unwelcome pests, we often unwittingly put our furry friends at risk. In 2009, our toxicologists fielded 29,020 calls related to insecticides. One of the most common incidents involved the misuse of flea and tick productssuch as applying the wrong topical treatment to the wrong species. Thus, its always important to talk to your pets veterinarian before beginning any flea and tick control program.

    People Food
    People food like grapes, raisins, avocado and products containing xylitol, like gum, can seriously disable our furry friends, and accounted for more than 17,453 cases in 2009. One of the worst offenders chocolatecontains large amounts of methylxanthines, which, if ingested in significant amounts, can cause vomiting, diarrhea, panting, excessive thirst, urination, hyperactivity, and in severe cases, abnormal heart rhythm, tremors and seizures.

    Common houseplants were the subject of 7,858 calls to APCC in 2009. Varieties such as azalea, rhododendron, sago palm, lilies, kalanchoe and schefflera are often found in homes and can be harmful to pets. Lilies are especially toxic to cats, and can cause life-threatening kidney failure even in small amounts.

    Veterinary Medications
    Even though veterinary medications are intended for pets, theyre often misapplied or improperly dispensed by well-meaning pet parents. In 2009, the ASPCA managed 7,680 cases involving animal- related preparations such as non-steroidal anti- inflammatory drugs, heartworm preventatives, de- wormers, antibiotics, vaccines and nutritional supplements.

    Last year, the ASPCA received 6,639 calls about pets who had accidentally ingested rat and mouse poisons. Many baits used to attract rodents contain inactive ingredients that are attractive to pets as well. Depending on the type of rodenticide, ingestions can lead to potentially life-threatening problems for pets including bleeding, seizures or kidney damage.

    Household Cleaners
    Everybody knows that household cleaning supplies can be toxic to adults and children, but few take precautions to protect their pets from common agents such as bleaches, detergents and disinfectants. Last year, the ASPCA received 4,143 calls related to household cleaners. These products, when inhaled by our furry friends, can cause serious gastrointestinal distress and irritation to the respiratory tract.

    Heavy Metals
    Its not too much loud music that constitutes our next pet poison offender. Instead, its heavy metals such as lead, zinc and mercury, which accounted for 3,304 cases of pet poisonings in 2009. Lead is especially pernicious, and pets are exposed to it through many sources, including consumer products, paint chips, linoleum, and lead dust produced when surfaces in older homes are scraped or sanded.

    Garden Products
    It may keep your grass green, but certain types of fertilizer and garden products can cause problems for outdoor cats and dogs. Last year, the ASPCA fielded 2,329 calls related to fertilizer exposure, which can cause severe gastric upset and possibly gastrointestinal obstruction.

    Chemical Hazards
    In 2009, the ASPCA handled approximately 2,175 cases of pet exposure to chemical hazards. A category on the rise, chemical hazardsfound in ethylene glycol antifreeze, paint thinner, drain cleaners and pool/spa chemicalsform a substantial danger to pets. Substances in this group can cause gastrointestinal upset, depression, respiratory difficulties and chemical burns.

    Prevention is really key to avoiding accidental exposure, but if you suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please contact your veterinarian or the Animal Poison Control Centers 24-hour hotline at (888) 426-4435.

    Source: ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)


    A donation
    was received from
    Matt Jacocks, DVM

    A donation was received from
    Claire Sommers
    in memory of
    Lois Helfer

    Donation was received from
    Martha Myers

    A donation was received from
    American Express Foundation Employee Giving Campaign
    The donor was
    Jonathan L Levy

    Johanna & Raymond Habisreitinger
    made a donation to honor
    Fay, Bill, JJ, Mozart and Betty Boop Schultz

    A donation was given by
    Aetna Foundation, Inc.
    Partners in Community Giving

    on behalf of volunteer
    Barbara Hyland

    A donation was given by
    Marathon Oil Global Volunteer Awards Program
    on behalf of volunteer
    Brandon Dumontier

    A donation was received

    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 26 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 14th
    Soniat Playground

    New Volunteer Orientation
    Saturday, June 19, 2010 10am-12noon
    Sunday, July 18, 2010
    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


    Barbara Hyland, volunteer coordinator for the probationary volunteers, would like to thank members of the Buddy Program as well as several volunteers for assisting her with the September '09 Evaluation Group. The cooperation of everyone in a timely manner was a big factor in the success of scheduling the probationary visits.
    Buddy volunteers included Claire Sommers, Fay Schultz, Pam Bellone, Linda Ferguson, Dawn Hagmann, Joyce Lashley, Dot McIntyre, Greg West, Connie Back, Cathy Burch, Brenda Chetta, Nancy Feild, Lee Gaffney, Jerry Gibel, Malay Hajara, Jackie Innerarity, Denise Mehurin, Tobi Provenzano, Harold Putfark, Diane Smith, Patty Spampneto, Delia Hardie, Rose Marhay, Joy Sturtevant, Laura Williams.
    The following volunteers assisted with observation visits: Kim Barrett, Leslie Davis, Ellen Goldring, Kevin Hand, Sandy Woods. Our thanks to all who helped to welcome our new volunteers.

    Quick Links...

    Visiting Pet Program Web site

    Monthly Schedules for and Spring 2010

    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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