PORTLAND, Ore.—On Thursday, May 15, canine and human duos who are part of Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams (PACTT) will attend the Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) Track Meet, happening from 9:15AM-3:15PM at 2214 E. 13th St., Vancouver, WA 98661. Track participants will be able to interact with Misha, a three -year old yellow lab, and Limon, a two-year-old yellow lab, from 9:30AM-10:30AM.
“I joined PACTT because I've always wanted to share a sweet dog with folks who needed a doggie hug, a doggie kiss, or just some doggie company,” said Jeannie Gretz, owner and handler of Misha. “I finally have a dog who is suitable for this job, and it really is a joy. Misha is very gentle and kind.”
PACTT is a partnership between DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital and Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB). The donor-funded program utilizes retired guide dogs (who have completed their terms aiding the legally blind) or career-change dogs (like Misha and Limon) who didn’t go on to become guide dogs for a variety of reasons. In addition to undergoing advanced obedience and socialization skills training, all PACTT program dogs and their handlers also participate in specialized PACTT training. They visit a variety of settings, and recently attended WSSB during an Easter egg hunt for visually impaired students.
“It is well documented that the relationship between humans and dogs are good for both,” said Adrienne Fernandez, recreation and volunteer coordinator at WSSB. “In addition providing numerous medical benefits, dogs can lift one’s spirit and provide comfort and companionship.” Sean McCormick, assistant principal of on-campus programs at WSSB, adds, “Dogs can reduce boredom and increase socialization. In between events during the track meet, students, staff, volunteers and parents will love to have the chance to pet and visit with the PACTT program dogs and their handlers.”
Students come from all over Washington and Oregon to compete in WSSB’s track and field activities. Participants have an opportunity to network with their peers, build confidence, and experience a sense of accomplishment and success. The track meet, sponsored by the Lions, has been an annual event for the last 50 years.
“This event gives our teams the opportunity to interact with children who may not have their sight but still have the ability to enjoy the love and affection of these wonderful dogs,” said Kathy Loter, PACTT program coordinator with DoveLewis. “They can touch the soft fur and feel the wagging bodies of these amazing dogs who can offer a break from the hustle and bustle of the track meet. And our handlers get just as much out of these visits as the children do!”
About Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams (PACTT)
Sharing a common belief in the power of the human-animal bond, DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital and Guide Dogs for the Blind partner to bring animal-assisted therapy to the local community through the Portland Area Canine Therapy Teams (PACTT) program. Highly trained career-change dogs from Guide Dogs for the Blind and their handlers undergo extensive training and assessment through DoveLewis and Guide Dogs for the Blind to complete their certification in animal-assisted therapy. Program teams visit with people in a variety of settings, including: long-term and skilled care facilities, assisted-living communities, hospitals, residential treatment centers, schools and libraries. Learn more at www.dovelewis.org.
DoveLewis Emergency Animal Hospital, established in 1973 and based in Portland, Ore., is the only nonprofit, 24-hour emergency and intensive care unit in the region. DoveLewis provides donor-funded programs to the community, including one of the United States’ largest volunteer-based animal blood banks, a nationally recognized pet loss support program, a partnership with Guide Dogs for the Blind to bring animal-assisted therapy and education to the community, 24-hour stabilizing care for lost, stray and wild animals and financial assistance for qualifying low-income families and abused animals. Celebrating 40 years of service to the community, DoveLewis has treated over 500,000 animals and has been deemed one of Oregon’s Most Admired Nonprofits by The Portland Business Journal for seven years! For more information, please visit www.dovelewis.org.
About Guide Dogs for the Blind
Guide Dogs for the Blind (www.guidedogs.com) is more than an industry-leading Guide Dog school; they are a passionate community that serves the visually impaired. With exceptional client services and a robust network of trainers, puppy raisers, donors and volunteers, they prepare highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are legally blind. GDB is a 501(c)3 organization. All of their client services are provided free of charge; they receive no government funding. They are headquartered in San Rafael, California, with a second campus in Boring, Oregon. More than 12,500 teams have graduated since the organization’s founding in 1942, and there are approximately 2,100 active teams in the field.
About Washington State School for the Blind
Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB) is fully accredited by the Northwest Association of Schools and Colleges (K-12) and is a residential school for blind and partially sighted students of school age who are residents of the state of Washington. WSSB serves as a statewide demonstration and resource center and provides direct and indirect services to students both on campus and in the children’s local communities. Learn more at www.wssb.wa.gov.