Volunteers' Voice News for and about the Visiting Pet Program
October 2010 Volume 10, Issue 2

September brought us our annual fall Pet/Handler Evaluation. We evaluated 27 dogs and 1 guinea pig. We accepted 22 dogs and 1 guinea pig, only 4 dogs were given Not Ready and one Not Suitable.

We took in 19 new volunteers. Four current volunteers had new dogs evaluated. Be sure to read about everyone in our Meet the New Volunteers column.

Please remember:
ˇIf you have signed up for a visit but cannot attend, you must call or email me prior to the visit to allow time to substitute a pet. During that call or email you must reschedule a make-up visit for that month.

ˇ If an emergency keeps you from attending a schedule visit (no showing), you are required to call or email me within 72 hours of the visit. At the time of the call or email you must reschedule a make-up visit for that month.

ˇ Volunteers should not attend a VPP visit if the volunteer or pet is not well. Hospital patients, disabled persons, and the elderly are particularly vulnerable to colds and viruses. Wait until you and your pet are feeling in top form to make the experience enjoyable for both of you.

Be sure to call or email me to cancel your visit. You must reschedule your visit to occur within 21 days of your canceled visit. If your illness is long-term, please contact me to request a leave of absence.

You can call me at 432-8349, email at paws4visits@gmail.com or fax me at 324-0963.

Thank you for your commitment to VPP and service to the community. I hope you and your wonderful pet have a rewarding visiting season in the fall.

Claire Sommers
Program Coordinator

Quick Links
Visit Schedule for Fall 2010

To Claire to schedule your visits

To the web site
Visiting Pet Program web site

In This Issue
  • Meet the New Volunteers
  • Pet Safety Tips for Autum and Halloween

  • Meet the New Volunteers

    Jason King and Dakota during the pet/handler evaluation

    We welcome our new volunteers:
    Diane Civello with Doug, the Goldendoodle. Diane is retired and loves the company of her five grandchildren. Diane also enjoys gardening. Doug is a happy dog from a breeder in Ohio and loves to meet new people.

    Melissa Ellis with Hooch, the Pug-Beagle Mix. Melissa is employed as a biologist for the Army and is also active with the LA/SPCA. Hooch is from Orlando Pug Rescue and loves to be petted and cuddled.

    Sonja Flick with Teddy, the Toy Poodle. Sonja, a former radiation therapist, is enjoying retirement. Teddy loves to dance, shake his paw and be around people.

    Chip Gomila with Princess Mena, the Doberman. Chip works part-time at a pharmacy in Covington and has been active with Doberman Rescue, training the dogs to be wonderful pets. Princess Mena is a gentle dog, loves children and is cat friendly.

    Heidi Graefenstein with Wally, the Lab/Golden Retriever. Heidi is a legal secretary and is looking forward to the pet visits. Wally has attended obedience class and loves children.

    Gina Guarino with Shandi, the Mixed Breed. Gina is an account manager with a school specialty company. She is an active volunteer with ARNO and loves animals. Shandi is mild mannered, mature and loves to be around people.

    Judy Haber-Stone with Guinness, the Border Collie Mix. Judy is a Career Specialist, working under Jefferson Parish with La. Workforce Commission. Guinness has attended several obedience classes at different levels and is very comfortable meeting new people.

    Helen Hester with Chaz, the Golden Retriever Mix. Helen is employed by the Windsor Court Hotel and volunteers with the LA/SPCA. Chaz loves the outdoors, especially dog parks and cafés.

    Paulette Jacob with Tallulah, the Yorkshire Terrier. Paulette works at Camp Bow Wow in Covington and also volunteers for the St. Tammany Humane Society. Tallulah loves to get dressed up in her many outfits and bring smiles to the faces of everyone.

    Jason King with Dakota, the Alaskan Malamute. Jason owns a retail web business and is also active as a photographer, artist and dog lover. Dakota is a big boy, 135 pounds. People are drawn to him and he loves the attention. He is truly a gentle giant

    Bob Klare with Maggie, the Chocolate Labrador Retriever. Bob is an engineer who manages projects across the country and around the world. Maggie is gentle and loves children.

    Melanie Manning with Chance, the American Bulldog Mix. Melanie has worked in animal rescue for over fifteen years and also enjoys working with children and the elderly. Chance loves to cuddle but also enjoys the outdoors at the dog park and the pet stores.

    Pamela Meisner with ZuZu, the Guinea Pig. Pamela is a stay-at-home Mom and enjoys activities with her sons. ZuZu is a young and healthy guinea pig and loves to be stroked and eat parsley.

    Cindy O'Donnell with Chloe, the Shih Tzu. Cindy is in pharmaceutical sales and is currently involved with Healing Touch for Animals. Chloe loves children as well as neighborhood walks and visiting the coffee shop.

    Janice Padwa with Kismet, the Vizsla. Janice is employed at the Hotel Monteleone as the Sr. Conference Services Manager. Kismet is a happy-go-lucky dog and is always willing to please.

    Maureen Richoux with Budda, the English Bulldog. Maureen works with her husband managing his psychiatric practice. Budda has attended obedience classes at different levels and loves people.

    Sam Sargent with Vera, the German Shepherd . Sam is a social worker with Healthy Start of New Orleans. She is also active with NOLA German Shepherd Rescue. Vera is a very social dog and enjoys her one hour daily walks.


    Connie Back with Cozette, the Boxer. Connie is a trainer and active with Boxers in many facets, from obedience, confirmation to show in obedience. Cozette is familiar with the public having appeared in training demos and shows.

    Brenda Chetta with Molly, the Toy American Eskimo. Brenda is retired but active with the Jefferson Performing Arts and also enjoys sewing and gardening. Molly is from Canada where Brenda made the trip to bring her home to La. Molly loves to be petted.

    Gay Korndorffer with Kai Kai, the Golden Retriever Mixed Breed. Gay is a registered nurse and works in the operating room at Ochsner Hospital. She also enjoys her rose garden. Kai Kai loves to be around people and loves to be petted.

    Alison Soileau with Tyler, the Whippet. Alison has her own business, Swiss skincare products promoting health and wellness. Tyler is already in the program with Alison's husband and loves to be hugged and make VPP visits.

    Greg West with Teddy, the Golden Retriever. Greg is an RN at Slidell Memorial Hospital and also loves music and softball. Teddy is lovable and enjoys being with children.

    Pet Safety Tips for Autum and Halloween

    Like we humans, our furry friends enjoy the nice, cool days of autumn after the extreme heat of Louisiana summers. Keeping in mind the following tips will help to ensure that they can enjoy those days as much as we do.

    Mushrooms tend to sprout in the Fall. Most mushrooms are not toxic, but the small percentage that are can cause life-threatening reactions in pets. Since most people can't tell toxic mushrooms from non-toxic ones (I know I can't!), keep a close eye on your pet while outside to make sure your pet doesn't ingest any. If you see or suspect that your pet has eaten a mushroom, call your veterinarian or emergency veterinary service immediately.

    If your dog has spent most of the summer indoors to avoid the heat, it's a good idea for you to have a refresher practice session or two with your pet on how to walk on a lead and how to come when called before venturing out for a long autumn walk so that you can be confident that your dog remembers the rules and that you will both remain safe on your walks.

    Some Halloween traditions can pose additional hazards for your pet. Here are some Halloween-specific tips to remember:

    Take care to ensure your pet does not have access to Halloween treats that are distributed or collected that might cause choking hazards or intestinal discomfort or irritation, or may be toxic to them.

    Chocolate is dangerous to both dogs and cats. Ingestion can cause diarrhea, vomiting, increased thirst and urination, rapid heart rate and seizures.

    Treats which contains the artificial sweetener xylitol can be poisonous to dogs, even in small amounts, and can cause significant health problems. Because it's often difficult to know all the ingredients that might be any given treat, it's best to make sure your pet does not have access to any Halloween (or other) sweet treats meant for us humans.

    If you plan to "dress up" your pet for Halloween, you should do so only if you are absolutely certain your pet enjoys dressing up. Try the costume out prior to Halloween to see how you pet reacts. If your pet finds it upsetting, unpleasant or stressful to be "dressed" and prefers his/her birthday suit, to the costume you picked out, then, as the "parent", you should not force your pet to wear a costume. If your pet is perfectly happy dressing up for Halloween, make sure the costume you choose has no small pieces than can be chewed and swallowed, does not restrict your pet's movement, and does not restrict his/her vision. A colorful bandana comfortably tied around the pet's neck can be a safe and attractive choice.

    It is not a good idea to have your dog by your side when you answer the door to greet trick-or-treaters. Your pet may find this to be stressful, or may become frightened or over-excited. If your dog were to panic and pull away from you, darting into the street, the results could be catastrophic. Children may be frightened of the dog, and there is no way for you to know whether or not a child will approach your dog in an inappropriate way that could cause your dog to become aggressive. Halloween is definitely not the best time for socializing Fido. He is much more likely to feel safe and secure if kept in a room away from the front door during trick-or-treat time.

    By keeping these tips in mind, both you and your pet can look forward to safely enjoying many autumn activities together.

    Patty Spampneto


    A donation
    was received from
    Lee and Tom Gaffney
    in memory of
    Dr. Jean Mc Call's dog,

    A donation was received from
    Kim Bradley
    in memory of Pam Bellone's dog,

    A donation was received from
    Mary Ehret
    in memory of Louise La Bruyere and Family's dog,

    A donation was received from
    Kim Bradley
    in memory of Claire Sommers' dog,

    A donation was received from
    Mary Ehret
    in memory of Al Hotard's dog,

    Donations were received
    in loving memory of
    Lee and Tom Gaffney's dog,
    Claire Sommers,
    Pam Bellone,
    Mike and Tamra Carboni,
    Patty Spampneto,
    Connie Back

    A donation was received from
    Fay Schultz
    in honor of and recognizing
    Claire Sommer's
    dedication and hard work as President
    for the past 5 year term.

    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 22 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!


    New Volunteer Orientation

    Saturday, October 30th, 2010
    2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
    Harahan Senior Center
    100 Elodie
    Pre-registration required
    Contact Patty Spampneto to register at paws4visits@gmail.com
    504- 432-8349

    Pet/Handler Evaluation

    Saturday, January 8th, 2011
    Harahan Senior Center
    100 Elodie
    Pre-registration required
    Contact Barbara Hyland to register at greytpets2@gmail.com
    if you would like to have an additional pet tested.

    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 conjunction 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

    Animal Expo
    Delgado Community College
    Saturday, October 16
    from 12 noon to 4pm
    at the City Park campus. Admission to this event is free and open to the public. VPP will have a booth at the event. Well mannered, vaccinated dogs are welcome to attend. Questions? Call Lee Gaffney at 671-5640

    Howling Success

    Saturday, November 6
    Mardi Gras World- River City Ballroom
    7:00 pm Patron Party
    Entertainment: Anais St. John
    8:30 pm - Midnight Gala
    Entertainment: Swingaroux
    Dress: Cocktail or 1940's Attire
    Humanitarian Award Winner: Anderson Cooper & the team at AC360
    For ticket info go to


    The following VPP members recently retired their pets from several years of service to the community. Our sincere thanks goes to all for them:

    Dawn Adams retired Gracie. Gracie was a regular visitor at Jo Ellen Smith.

    Connie Back retired Scotty. Scotty was a regular visitor at Magnolia School.

    Millie Ball retired Millie Dog. Millie Dog was a regular visitor at John Hainkel.

    Cathy Burch retired AnnaBelle. AnnaBelle was a regular visitor at Ochsner Hospital.

    Lee and Tommy Gaffney retired Scruffy. Scruffy was a regular visitor at John Hainkel.

    Ellen Goldring retired Lucy Jane. Lucy Jane was a regular visitor at Lambeth House.

    Judilyn Schneider retired Charlie. Charlie was a regular visitor at Walden.

    Quick Links...

    Visiting Pet Program Web site

    Monthly Schedules for Fall 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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