The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals began as a refuge and safe haven for not only abused or unwanted animals, but also a place for abused women and children in the late 1800s.

As a result, the agency always tries to consider the needs of humans. As studies have shown, pets do have a positive impact on people.

Here are some of the “human” programs at the SPCA of Texas:

  • Pet Therapy, which entails visits by volunteers with puppies to nursing homes and hospitals. It is a very popular program that immediately gives the volunteer and patient a warm, fuzzy feeling.
  • Service Dog Training is a new program for the SPCA. Service dogs are selected from the shelter to be used as guides for the physically challenged. Texas Hearing and Service Dogs trains these dogs without cost for people who are 18 years or older with spinal cord injuries. The dogs, usually labs or shepherds, are taught to open doors, turn lights on and off, pick up dropped objects, seek help and many other aid tactics.

Volunteers are needed to foster these dogs while they go through training. If interested, call Ann Ramsbottom, education director at 651-9611, ext. 122.

  • Animals Loved and Lost. If you have ever lost your best friend – the four-legged kind – you can relate to the sadness and pain that occurs with the death. To relieve this pain, this free grief-counseling group holds sessions in the SPCA Multi-Purpose Room the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at 7 p.m.
  • The Emergency Medical Fund was established to help the indigent with emergency medical situations involving a pet. Since the SPCA’s vet does not accept private appointments, an exception is made to help anyone in need of medical care or food for his or her pet (qualification of financial situation is required).
  • The Pet Pal program assists persons with AIDS who also have a pet that needs grooming, shots or medical attention but may not be able to afford it. Through fashion designer Todd Oldham’s involvement with fundraising for AIDS, he was created five pewter and rhinestone pet charms specifically for the Pet Pal program. The sale of the charms, $20 each, goes directly to the Emergency Medical Fund earmarked for persons with AIDS who have pets.

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