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Giving Back Through Pet Therapy

PROJECT PUP (Pets Uplifting People) is a nonprofit, volunteer organization providing pet visits to hospitals, health care facilities, rehabilitation & hospice centers in the Tampa Bay Area.

Since all of Project PUP's animals are personally-owned pets, PUP holds a screening process to determine whether an animal has the right temperament. The screenings are held every other month at a skilled nursing center, where the animal's temperament & behavior are observed and measured. The basic requirements are:

  • An up-to-date vaccination report from a licensed veterinarian is mandatory.

  • Animals must be well trained on a leash & follow basic commands.

  • An initial test is done to determine an animal's response around equipment like wheelchairs, canes, walkers, etc. For example, a screener may drop a walker in front of the animal to ensure it remains calm. If the pet remains calm, he or she moves onto the final evaluation.

  • In the last assessment, the animal is exposed to a health care environment with common social behaviors. The pet is taken through the facility to interact with residents and staff, where there are noises, loud voices, coughs, screams, trembling hands, shuffling feet, etc. This final test ensures the animal does not become fearful or aggressive.

If the animal passes all parts of the screening process, it will be certified through Project PUP to become a visiting therapy pet. Our very own Sophie became a Project PUP Volunteer in 2011 and has brought comfort & joy to terminally ill patients of all ages.

Studies continue to show the simple act of petting an animal lowers blood pressure, slows down heart rate & decreases cortisol levels.
Parade Magazine's article demonstrates how pets keep our mind & body healthy.

"Pet therapy" provides a way to connect pets with people who are unable to have a pet due to illness or age. There is a lot more demand than there are volunteers. If you live in the Tampa Bay Area and have a pet that you think might be a good candidate, we encourage you to consider reaching out to Project PUP at 727-497-3005 about having your animal screened. Pet therapy not only provides great comfort to people, but it also mentally enriches pets!

Have a Naturally Beautiful Day ❤️


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