Pet therapy brings holiday joy to retirees at Biloxi VA

Pet therapy brings holiday joy to retirees at Biloxi VA

BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Four-legged friends brought Christmas treats to residents at the Biloxi VA Community Living Center.

The dogs and their owners volunteered to hand out holiday-themed gifts and socks to residents throughout the facility.

“We make little gifts for the veterans to let them know that they are remembered,” said Michael Bowin with Visiting Pet Teams of South Mississippi. “Especially around the holidays, that’s when people tend to get a bit melancholy, so we wanted to lift their spirits.”

Visiting Pet Teams said that pet therapy brings the joy of loving animals to those who are unable to care for a pet of their own.

Therapists said the benefits of interacting with the dogs include stress reduction, lower blood pressure and happiness

“It lowers blood pressure, it also helps with relaxation. It helps bring backs some memories for some of the veterans, about some of the pets that they’ve had," said Recreational Therapist Lara Herrin-Schaubhut.

One man laughed as he held a pomeranian while lying in bed.

“They make me feel wonderful. They give love and let us all know it and we give love right back to them," one veteran said.

The practice is also known for helping aging populations improve mental and motor skills.

Copyright 2019 WLOX. All rights reserved.