OT students, animals to make road trip
Oct. 1, 2013 - Whether on two or four legs, members of Quinnipiac's occupational therapy program will be well represented at Animal Awareness Day on Saturday, Oct. 6, on the green in Branford, Conn.
Donna M. Latella, professor of occupational therapy, expects to attend the event along with least 10 Service Learning students and four therapy animals: Penelope, a pot belly pig; Aubry, a golden retriever; Steady Eddy, a 24-year-old therapy horse and Lightening, a miniature horse who will give cart rides to raise money for the local animal in Branford.
All of the animals are certified through Pet Partners, a nationally recognized organization dedicated to animal-assisted activities and therapy. The event, which will also feature a blessing of the animals, is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m.
"There will be all kinds of animals, shelters and organizations there," said Latella, who has been asked to talk about the University's animal assisted therapy program. "It's great exposure for therapy animals and our students. We will be raising awareness and money for the shelter."
Latella and the Service Learning students often visit senior centers and community organizations with the therapy animals. In Spring 2013, Latella brought 3-year-old Aubry to the North Haven Campus to help students decrease stress levels during final exams. The results were "overwhelmingly positive" and a report of the findings will be published, she said.
"Animals bring smiles to faces and make people happy," Latella added. "It really is about increasing quality of life. When we work with people out in the community, the animals not only connect with the patients, but they help our students make a connection with the patients."