Volunteers' Voice

News for and about the Visiting Pet Program

September 2019   Volume 18, Issue 2
    Take Note!   

New Volunteer Orientation
November 2, 2019
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Harahan Senior Center
 100 Elodie
  Pre-registration required

Contact Claire Sommers at paws4visits@gmail.com to register

Pet/Handler Evaluation
January 4, 2020
 Harahan Senior Center
    100 Elodie
 Pre-registration required
Barbara Hyland  
to register 
 if you would like to have an additional pet tested.

Reading To Rover  
  On the East Bank
   Held on the third Tuesday of each month at the East Bank Regional Library
 4747 W. Napoleon in Metairie
    Contact Fay Schultz
 to confirm your slot at any of these
Reading To Rover

Our Deepest Sympathies

  Kevin Hand  who lost his much loved " Hercules ".  Kevin and Hercules joined the VPP in 2008.  Hercules retired in 2016.   Kevin continues to volunteer with "Tito". 

Nicole Parks who lost her precious " McKenzie".  McKenzie and Nicole joined the VPP in 2012.   Nicole will continue to volunteer with the VPP as a buddy.  

Susan Talbot who lost her beloved " Magic".   Susan and Magic joined the VPP in 2015 and retired in 2018.  

  Happy Retirement

The following VPP members recently retired their pets from service to the community. Our sincere thanks goes to:

Lynne Aranda is retiring her sweet Doberman " Splash."

Lynn and Splash joined the VPP in 2010. 
They were regulars at Chateau Living 

Connie Back is retiring her beautiful Boxer   "Cozette."   
Cozette joined the VPP in 2010  and has been a regular at Children's and Magnolia 

Pam Bellone retired Zip.    

Zip joined in 2010 and has been a regular at East Jefferson General Hospital, Children's Hospital and Ville St Marie visits. 

Helen Hester retired Chaz

They joined in 2011.  They were regulars at Chateau Living and Reading to Rover visits. 

Claire Sommers retired Parker.  

Parker joined in 2011 and was a regular at St Margaret's and Reading to Rover visits.  

VPP Business Cards

Many of you have asked about the cute "business cards" our members use. I ' ve included Chaz's card as an example. If you are interested in purchasing, send 2 high resolution photos to paws4visits@gmail.com . The cost is $40 for 250 cards and can be paid via paypal on our web site.
 Quick Links
About 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 32 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 click on the button below or 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

As you know, our fearless leader, Lee Gaffney, is undergoing treatments for her recent ovarian cancer diagnosis. She has made the incredibly difficult decision to step down from her Visiting Pet Program roles in order to focus on herself and fighting this terrible, horrible, no good disease. As hard as this is, we respect and support her decision. We will continue to support Lee, Tommy and their entire family as best we can during this time.

Lee reached out to the board with her nominations for those who should replace her as the Children's Hospital liaison and as President of the Visiting Pet Program. We thank Suzanne Christensen, Harper Lee and Tallulah's mom, for accepting the role as Children's Hospital liaison.

When I first emailed the Visiting Pet Program about the puppy I was about to get, I never thought that my time with the organization would lead to this. I first met Lee at an agility for fun class at Jefferson Feed, hosted by the LASPCA. We discussed the program and sure enough Lee thought McKenzie would be a great fit. McKenzie and I became an official VPP team in December 2011, and visited until April 13, 2019, the day before my girl crossed the Rainbow Bridge. I joined the VPP board in 2014 as the Public Relations chair. You should know that the board and this organization are a well-oiled machine. We have found our special recipe; our secret sauce and we are going to continue to use it!

We thank you for your commitment to the program. Our hearts are a bit heavier as we start this visiting season without someone who has been the heart and soul of the program for over 30 years. Bring the love and the joy of Lee with you on your visits this fall!

Nicole Parks
  VPP at Camp Tiger


On a beautiful Friday in May, a group of VPP pet-handler teams joined the fun at Camp Tiger hosted by the LSUHSC Med Students for special needs children. What a great camp and what a great day! 


VPP's Airport Program

On July 19, 2019,  New Orleans International airport had a group of 26 WWII Veterans fly back home to the Detroit area after spending a couple of days in New Orleans visiting the National WWII Museum with Gary Sinise Foundation.  The flights are called "Soaring Valor." Some members of VPP's K9 Krewe spent the morning of their departure with them.  The Vets were thrilled, as you can see in the pictures, to be able to pet them and spend time with them.

The airport program has been extremely well received by both passengers and airport staff. Participating volunteers must have been with the VPP for at least one year and must attend an airport orientation.If you are interested in participating, contact paws4visits@gmail.com.

  Meet the New VPP Volunteers

Elena Baye with Champ, the Boxer. Elena is a Health & PE teacher at Solis Elementary School.  Elena has volunteered with PAWS and Wynhoven Healthcare Center. Champ loves going to dog parks, cafes and the farmers market.

Amanda Cooey with Nellie, the Lab/Golden Retriever Mix. Amanda will be graduating next spring from Loyola and is working part time as a sales associate with the WWII Museum. Amanda has volunteered as a puppy raiser for Canine Companions for Independence raising three pups. The first two graduated as service dogs for people with disabilities. Nellie was in training to be a service dog and is comfortable in all situations, including those with disabilities.

Adam & Lauren Labarriere with Leah, the Long-Haired Mini Dachshund. Adam is employed with a Marine Electronics company. He enjoys bike riding and spending time with his family and dog. Lauren works at Ochsner Rehab Hospital as an Occupational Therapist. Lauren enjoys cooking and drawing. Leah enjoys festivals, stores and dog friendly restaurants.

Heidi Netherton with Panda, the Japanese Chin. Heidi is a Registered Nurse/MSW. Heidi enjoys swimming, travelling and classical music. Panda enjoys walks in the park and socializing  with friends at their home.
Rachel Wellons with Bailey, the Terrier/Shepherd Mix. Rachel is a Physical Therapy Professor at LSUHSC New Orleans. Rachel is comfortable in a health care setting and working with individuals with disabilities. Bailey enjoys her daily walks, City Bark and attending dog friendly events.

VPP Members with an Additional Pet  

Cathy Logan with Sadie, the Boxer. Cathy is retired and enjoys doing volunteer work with her dogs. Cathy enjoys travelling and reading. Sadie loves to socialize with people and going to parades.

Tobi Provenzano with Cayenne, the Australian Shepherd. Tobi has been an active volunteer in VPP many years and a valued member of the VPP Buddy Program. Cayenne loves going on walks, hiking and interacting with people and also pets.

VPP at Care Cadet Camp  
Barbara Hyland and Alex gave their annual summer presentation to the LA/SPCA Care Cadet Campers. Barbara said it was exciting to share with the Care Cadets our Members in Training Program. They will now have an opportunity to become VPP members. Two former Care Cadet members assisted with the daily sessions and also shared their experiences as volunteers with VPP on pet evaluation day.

VPP visit with LSU OT Students 

Guardian Angels
Donations were received from
Lee Gaffney, Kevin Hand, Barbara Hyland, Danna and Mason Morris, and Claire Sommers in memory of
Nicole Parks' golden,

A donation was received from Kimberly Bradley, Molly and Lucy in memory of Tancuj, pet of Jerry Gibel

A donation was received from Barbara Hyland in memory of Houston, pet of Barbara's neighbor, Connie Flint

A donation was received from Dan Burstain in honor of Todd and Jen Burstain

A donation was received from  Terry Alarcon in memory of Magic, pet of Susan and Jerry Talbot.

Donations were received from Dana and Mason Morris, Claire Sommers, Lee Gaffney, Barbara Hyland, Brenda Chetta, and Diane Smith in memory of Kevin Hand's beloved dog, Hercules

A donation was received from Humana

Donations were received from United Way Midland County

A donation was received from Leslie Davis in memory of Dr. Dana Troxclair

A donation was received from Jill Dolese in memory of Rocky and Chance, pets of Jill Dolese

A donation was received from Aetna Foundation (matching donation from Barbara Hyland)