Volunteers' Voice

News for and about the Visiting Pet Program

April 2020    Volume 19, Issue 3
Take Note! 

COVID-19: VPP board is closely monitoring the situation and developments directed by local, state, and federal health and emergency officials. If any of the following schedule changes, we will let you know.    

New Volunteer Orientation
June 14, 2020
2:00pm to 4:00 pm

November 7, 2020
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
  Pre-registration required
Contact Claire Sommers at paws4visits@gmail.com to register

Pet/Handler Evaluation

July 25, 2020
 Pre-registration required
Contact Barbara Hyland to register at
 if you would like to have an additional pet tested.

Reading To Rover  
Held on the third Tuesday of each month at the East Bank Regional Library
4747 W. Napoleon in Metairie
Held on the second Tuesday of each month at Rosa Keller Library 4300 South Broad Street in New Orleans
6:00pm - 7:00pm
 Contact Fay Schultz
 to confirm your slot at any of these
Reading To Rover

Our Deepest Sympathies

Megan Devine and Robert Guyette who said goodbye to their much loved Pearl.  This team joined the VPP in 2017 and were regulars at Chateau de Notre Dame.  

and to 

Cathy and Toby Young who lost their beloved golden retriever Stella.  Cathy, Toby and Stella joined the VPP in 2016 and were regulars at the Lambeth visits

Happy Retirement

Barbara Hyland retired Zambi.  Zambi joined the VPP in 2012 and has been a regular at St. Anthony's nursing home. Barbara continues to visit with Alex .  

Four Paw Salute

Our pet visits were limited due to COVID-19. I would like to thank the following members who assisted me with the January and February probationary pet visits: Mike Azzarello, Linda Bauer, Suzanne Christensen, Lori Haeuser, Kevin Hand, Delia Hardie, Sabrina Jacks, Carol Lanasa, Holly Mars, Fay Schultz, Claire Sommers, Monica Stephens and Nancy Tatarski. In addition, the following members assisted with observation visits: Kelley Altazin, Jennifer Burstain, Tracey Dietz and Ricky Vergona.

Thank you for being a mentor to our new handlers.

Barbara Hyland 
 Quick Links
Some Picnic Highlights


As I sit on my back patio enjoying a cup of coffee, listening to the birds and watching our puppy eat yet another leaf, I reflect on these last few weeks. We had a lovely time at our annual picnic on March 8th. We loved on our favorite therapists and celebrated our service and special award recipients listed below. We even got to see and love - from a safe distance - our Lee! It was such a great afternoon!

Our world changed the next day when the first presumptive positive case of COVID-19 in New Orleans was made. Our work as animal-assisted therapy teams changed. All our remaining March visits were canceled. Not long after, all of April as well. While nothing is official yet, May isn't looking too promising considering the toll this virus is taking on the facilities and those we visit. And that is what pains me the most.

Those we visit need us right now and we can't be with them physically. BUT, we can go to them virtually. If you are interested, please dress in your VPP shirt and shoot a short video (a photo would work also!) of you and your pet. You can send to me at nethiberville@gmail.com. Please include your name, your pet's name and the facility you usually visit. We'll post from the VPP Facebook page and tag the facility. We're hoping this will brighten their day!

Please do your part. Stay home as much as possible. If you do have to go out, please give space. Wash your hands. Support small and local businesses when and where possible. Stay healthy and love those therapists. We are going to need our teams more than ever once we can get back to visiting.

Much love,
VPP Volunteer Appreciation Picnic/Annual Meeting   
2020 Award Recipients 

Commitment to Excellence and Longevity Award

The VPP wanted to acknowledge the longevity and commitment to excellence of our most Senior Volunteers. I tallied it up and these few members have a combined total of 146 years of experience.   In those many years these volunteers have all gone above and beyond their required monthly visit. From doing additional visits during the month, serving in Special Programs, serving as Mentors to our probationary volunteers and volunteering to represent our organization at a variety of community events.  Their ongoing devotion to our mission is overwhelming! We thank each one for sharing many years and all their talents with us. We are honored to call them Visiting Pet Program volunteers.

Lee Gaffney
Tommy Gaffney
Leslie Davis
Lori Haeuser
Denise Mehurin
Connie Back

Connie Back, Lee Gaffney, Tommy Gaffney

Not in the picture: Leslie Davis, Lori Haeuser, Denise Mehurin

Outstanding Volunteer Award 

Delia Hardie retired her Lallie in 2017. Despite no longer having a pet in the program, Delia has continued to serve as a buddy for probationary volunteers. As well as providing her photographic equipment and expertise at our twice annual Pet/ Handler evaluation days

Tamra and Michael Carboni retired their Hannah in 2001    It has been a Really long time since Tamra and Michael have had a pet in the program.Yet they continue to participate at our twice annual Pet Handler evaluation days.Michael and Tamra work side by side with Delia.This trio is responsible for making sure your ID badge photos are the best they can be.

People Awards

25 Year Member

Leslie Davis

20 Year Members

Jeannette Albert
Claire Sommers

Missing from photo is
Pam Bellone
Helen Schneidau


15 Year Member

Diane Smith

10 Year Member

Kim Hamlen
5 Year Member

Rita Bezou, Jean Inman, Steve Inman, Sabrina Jacks,  and
Holly Lambert Mars

Pet Awards 

9 years
Chloe ODonnell and Bindi Becnel

  6 years 
Sadie Sommers, Bogie, Ziants/ Cleary

  Not in the picture: Lizzie Dele Haeuser

  3 years  

Anastasia Lemoine, Sadie Sommers, Buddy Lambert Lanasa, Bailor Jacomine and Maggie Vergona

Not in the picture:
Samantha Gresham, Daisy Jespersen, Hank Joerger, Bogey Riess, and Stella Young
Guardian Angels

A donation was received from VCA Causeway Animal Hospital in memory of Miley, pet of Tom Pelle

A donation was received from Helen Hester in memory of her pet, Chaz

A donation was received from United Way

A donation was received from Aetna Foundation as a matching donation from Barbara Hyland

About the Visiting Pet Program
The Visiting Pet Program is an all volunteer 501 (C)(3) non-profit animal assisted therapy organization serving Orleans, Jefferson and St. Tammany parishes.

For the past 33 years, the volunteers of the VPP have lived up to their motto of "Bringing Love and Leaving Smiles" to the residents of nursing homes and hospitals.

Our literacy project, Reading to Rover, offers young readers the opportunity to practice their reading aloud skills to the gentle therapy dogs.

If you would like to make a donation to the Visiting Pet Program, please  mail your check to   P.O. Box 24748, New Orleans, LA 70184-4748 . Please note if your donation is in memory of a person or a pet. We will be happy to send an acknowledgment of your donation to the family. Please include the name and address to send the acknowledgment. Because we are a 501(C)(3) organization, your donation is tax deductible. We are an all volunteer organization. Your donation goes directly to the support of our mission. 

Thank you