Volunteers' Voice

News for and about the Visiting Pet Program

 October 2012
Volume 12, Issue 2

Take Note! 







New Volunteer Orientation

Saturday, October 20, 2012

2:00 pm to 4:00 pm


 Harahan Senior Center

 100 Elodie

  Pre-registration required

Contact Claire Sommers at paws4visits@gmail.com to register



Pet/Handler Evaluation


January 5, 2013

 Harahan Senior Center

   100 Elodie

 Pre-registration required

Barbara Hyland

to register at

 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   


 Contact Fay Schultz


 to confirm your slot at any of these Reading To Rover





Our Deepest Sympathies 



Stacey Warnke
Terri Joia

who lost their beloved cat
joined the VPP in 2004.  She was a regular visitor at
Ville St Marie.
was very special and will be missed by all who met her.
Our deepest sympathies to Stacey and Terri for the loss of their precious pet.






Happy Retirement:

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


Lee and Tom Gaffney retired their Gaffneyhound,
Meghan Clare.

Meghan Clare joined in 2000 and was a regular at John Hainkel Home.

Candice Sirmon  

retired her Lab/Terrier mix,  

Sally joined in 2008 and was a regular at  

Malta Park and  

Lambeth House. 
Gina Guarino  

retired her Lab/Beagle mix,   

Shandi joined in 2010 and visited at Chateau.
Carolyn Sanchez retired her Cavachon,  Sammy.
Sammy joined the VPP in 2011 and visited at Lambeth House.








 Quick Links

  Visiting Pet Program




 Monthly Schedules for Fall 2012




  Help VPP by shopping through IGive




  Shop for great therapy dog books at Dogwise





It's finally fall and our visits are back in full swing. Our fall evaluation was a huge success, bringing us 12 new volunteers with 11 new dogs as well as 4 current volunteers who had a new pet successfully tested, including a cat! Read about them in the article below. 

I had the pleasure of having one of our new volunteers observe my visit recently. Having just come from the pet/handler workshop, she was keenly aware of our dos and don't, positioning the pet, approaching different types of equipment, etc. We had trained her well. What I quickly realized was that we have not and can not prepare a new volunteer for the emotional part of our visits.

The first person we saw was an older gentleman shuffling down the hallway. He was quiet, with his head down, watching each step. When he suddenly saw a dog coming his way, his head lifted, as did his spirit. A big smile came across his face and his shuffle step became a deliberate movement toward the dog. It was so heartwarming to see that immediate and dramatic reaction. It was more than our new volunteer could handle. She became quite emotional. That flood of emotion gave her the drive to succeed with her pet, to become part of what we have done for the community for 25 years.

It's that kind of reaction that keeps us all going. That reaction helps us bathe a dog when we don't really want to; to get out of our warm, cozy bed on a Saturday morning and drive to some place we ordinarily wouldn't go. It's that reaction that says "thank you" for sharing your pet and your time with me. It's a small thing, but it means the world to us and those we serve.

Happy Fall! Happy visits!

Lee Gaffney
Meet the New Volunteers


We welcome our new volunteers:


Jennifer Buuck with Violet, the Boxer. Jennifer is a high school English teacher. She is also a volunteer with the LA/SPCA and the Bywater Neighborhood Assoc. Violet loves to play, go on walks and visit the farmers market.


Lauren Duncan with Feeney, the Boston Terrier. Lauren is a Vet. Technician and is currently enrolled at Delgado in the Medical Lab Tech Program. Feeney loves to visit with the neighborhood children and visit pet stores.


Julie Fitch and Val McKay with Pearl, the French Bulldog. Julie volunteers with the Greater New Orleans Therapeutic Riding Center which helps children with disabilities through equine therapy. Val is employed with Peter Mayer Advertising. Pearl loves going for walks and visits to City Bark.


Rocky Livingston with Ginger, the Mixed Breed. Rocky is enjoying retirement, active as a volunteer with the Juvenile Justice Project and the New Orleans Book Club. Ginger loves long walks and visits to the farmers market.


Tiffanie Lyon with Midnight, the Black Lab Mix. Tiffanie conducts on-line job readiness training and job placement for adults with disabilities. Midnight loves visiting dog parks on the northshore.


Rebecca Mueller with Daisy, the Schnauzer. Rebecca works from home, pet-sitting daily or overnight pet care. Daisy enjoys interaction with other pets and also pet parades.


Mike Oliver with Alley Oop, the Basset Hound. Mike is a retired Navy pilot. He is also active with Basset Hound Rescue. Alley Oop loves the neighborhood children and visits to pet stores and City Bark.


Robin Pennell with Ruby, the Daschund/Terrier Mix. Robin loves animals and has an interest in pursuing Music Therapy. Ruby is very playful and loves to do tricks such as roll over, pray and whisper.


Rhonda Vergona with Leo & Molly, both Mixed Breeds. Rhonda works for a demolition company in New Orleans and has been very active as a Girl Scout leader. Leo and Molly love going to the park and also giving presentations to school children on safety/awareness through the Tangipahoa Humane Society.


Nancy Tatarski with Moss, the Black Lab. Nancy is the Project Asst. for the Chair of Judeo-Christian Studies at Tulane. Moss enjoys visits to the park and car rides.


Julie Warren with Stewie, the Boxer. Julie is a stay-at-home mother and volunteers at her daughter's school. She also enjoys candlemaking. Stewie loves everyone, especially children.


Current Volunteers add Pets:


Pam Bellone with Rusty, the Terrier Mix. Pam is a board member with VPP. She also gives private obedience lessons and has an interest in photography. Rusty loves visiting people, whether at nursing homes or pet stores.


Gayle Kroeger with Anya, the Tonkinese feline. Gayle is semi-retired, baking desserts for Langenstein's uptown. Anya is comfortable with everyone and is a seasoned traveler.


Denise Mehurin with Murphy, the Sheltie. Denise has been an active member of VPP since 1996. Murphy loves children and visiting with residents at nursing homes.


Joy Sturtevant with Benny, the Boxer. Joy is active in VPP, LA/SPCA and sporting events with her dogs. Benny loves people and has been known to hang out at a pub. 

Another Kodak Moment!
Join the fun Oct. 20th

If you missed the fabulous Halloween photo session in September you missed a great time. But...you are in luck! Stacey Warnke has graciously offered to do it again! This time, the background will be a generic photo background with the option of a "monster" included for a Halloween twist.
A Great Dane pup poses in the elaborately decorated Halloween scene put together by
Stacey Warnke and Terri Joia.
The event will be held at the Harahan Senior Center, Saturday, October 20th from 9:30am-1:30pm. Cost is $20 for 10 shots. First come, first served. This event is open to everyone, not just VPP members, so be sure to tell your friends.

Don't miss this second change at an exciting opportunity!

Special thanks to Terri Joia and Stacey Warnke for all their efforts to make these events possible.

Spreading the News!
Volunteers share our story on both sides of the lake
Barbara Hyland and Zambi recently joined 19 girls from a Lakeview Daisy Troop for a presentation on VPP and being safe around animals.
VPP member Barbara Hyland and her Greyhound Zambi have been busy making thier rounds of presentations this fall. They recently represented VPP and presented information on our program to the Occupational Therapy students at Delgado Community College. A few days later, she bravely met with 19 little girls of a Lakeview Daisy troop to tell them about VPP and to instruct them on how to behave safely around dogs.

On the northshore, members Rebecca Breaud and Suzette Hubble with Chloe met with the Veterinary Technology students at Delgado's Covington Campus. The students loved their presentation and were excited to learn about our program.

Thanks to all our presenters for representing all of us so well!
Guardian Angels
   A donation was received from  

Helen Schneidau  

in memory of  

Marcia Legendre's cat,



Donations were received from

Helen Schneidau, Diane Smith, Kevin Hand,
Tom and Lee Gaffney, Fay and Bill Schult
z and

Brenda Chetta 

in memory of  

Claire Sommer's mom,  

Ms. Shirley Ann Frees


Donations were received from  

Joyce Lashley, Barbara Hyland 

and the staff of River Consulting


Donations were received from  

Pam Bellone, Tom and Lee Gaffney, Claire Sommers,  

and Kevin Hand

in memory of  

Terri Joia and Stacey Warnke's beloved cat,  



A donation was received from  

Jill Dolese

in memory of

Denise Mehurin's dog,



A donation was received from  

Claire Sommers and  

Tom and Lee Gaffney  

in memory of

Delia Hardie's dog



A donation was received from

Tom and Lee Gaffney 

in memory of  

Lori Haeuser's dogs

Jody and Emily


A donation was received from  

Joyce Lashley  

in memory of  

Barbara Hyland's dog



A donation was received from

Lee Gaffney 

in memory of  

Paulette Jacob's son

Tim Jacob  

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 25 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