Therapy Dogs Visit Capitol Hill to Help Congress De-Stress as Impeachment Hearings Begin
Every situation can be made a bit better by a dog.
Pet Partners, the nation’s leading organization in registering therapy animals for animal-assisted interventions, and the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC) understand this. That’s why they brought a group of trained therapy canines to Capitol Hill on Wednesday — the same day public impeachment hearings began as the Democratic House of Representatives continued investigating President Donald Trump for lobbying Ukraine to investigate his opponents.
“This is a happy accident,” Mike Bober, president of PIJAC, told PEOPLE about the alignment between the visit and the hearings. “We had this planned for several months, so when they announced the date of the hearings, we thought ‘if there was ever a time for a bipartisan source of comfort and relief, it’s today.’ ”
Pet Partners and PIJAC first teamed up together to bring certified therapy dogs to Capitol Hill over three years ago. The first event was such a success that the visits have become biannual happenings highly anticipated by many congressional staffers.
“Our goal is to improve human health and wellbeing through the animal bond, and not everyone can have a pet of their own, so this is where therapy animals can be beneficial,” Mary Margaret Callahan, chief missions officer at Pet Partners, said about why she feels the visits are important.
Callahan said these events are often full of grateful animal lovers, who are happy interact up-close with a dog again as the reminisce about their own past pets. Along with helping humans de-stress, these visits are also great for the canines too.
“They want to spend time meeting people who they have never met before,” she said of the therapy pups.
The CMO hopes these interactions help other understand the unique power of therapy pets, and the overall joy — and improvement to mental and physical health — a close bond with an animal can bring.
For Wednesday’s visit, the therapy dogs went to the Hart Senate Office Building and Rayburn House Office Building to show congressional staffers just how powerful a therapy dog’s attention can be.
PIJAC and Pet Partners hope to expand their future therapy animal events to include outdoor space, according to Bober, so “animals not typically allowed in congressional buildings, like therapy ponies,” can be included as well.