South West Florida Therapy Animals Provides Animal Therapy to Combat COVID

Todays News

BY BRITTANY MATTIE SRQ DAILY WEDNESDAY PHILANTHROPY EDITION WEDNESDAY AUG 12, 2020

Venture to idyllic farmland and a red ranch on Lorraine Road in Lakewood Ranch and find South West Florida Therapy Animals (SWFTA). The 501c3 foundation provides emotional support with their fleet of therapists which include horses, dogs, cows, teacup pigs, cats, ducks, bunnies, baby goats and chickens. This comforting cache of farm animals provides psychological wellness to individuals and organizations whose members will benefit from their calming, abiding affection.

These adorable animals are specially trained to socialize and comfort guests who visit the Ranch through various types of field trips. Supervised visits with the animals, a picnic lunch under a canopy of oak trees, and a stroll through the beautiful property of organic gardens are just some of the perks of a field trip to SWFTA. Guests will also learn about each of the horses and dogs on the Ranch as well as their unique behaviors through a five-minute educational talk. SWFTA is available to bring their trained dogs and smaller trained animals to visit off-site as well. From visiting the elderly at assisted living facilities and nursing homes, to children struggling with cancer in hospitals and those with special needs or autism at schools, no matter who or where, these furry and feathered critters help stimulate some pretty special therapeutic interactions that bring smiles and a reprieve of anxiety to many.

According to UCLA Health, animals help people lower blood pressure, reduce focus on pain, lower levels of Epinephrine and Norepinephrine, reduce patient anxiety, spark memory by bringing back pleasant memories, provide a non-judgmental listener, increase the level of endorphin which promotes better immune response, and increase oxytocin levels (an important hormone promoting proper body function).

Thus, SWFTA hopes to spread the word that they're here to help the community during these times of duress with a little extra love and laughter. “People are hungry to get help during the isolating and confusing time we are in,” says Ceci Linton, SWFTA Ranch Manager. “During the days of Covid-19, we are still working with active, engaged volunteers (outside and with social distancing). Our volunteer base is incredible— mostly high school kids who love animals and want to get their elbows dirty with some digging, building, painting, or crafting on behalf of the animals.”

Photo courtesy of South West Florida Therapy Animals.

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