Volunteers' Voice

News for and about the Visiting Pet Program

October 2020   Volume 19, Issue 3
    Take Note!   

(VPP Board is monitoring federal, state, and local directives related to COVID-19. If any information changes, we will let everyone know via email. Please follow all COVID-19 related guidelines and health directives)

New Volunteer Orientation
November 7, 2020
2:00 pm to 4:00 pm
 Harahan Senior Center
 100 Elodie
  Pre-registration required

Contact Claire Sommers at [email protected] to register

Pet/Handler Evaluation
January 9, 2021
 Harahan Senior Center
   100 Elodie
 Pre-registration required
Barbara Hyland 
to register 
 if you would like to have an additional pet tested.

Our Deepest Sympathies

Barbara Hyland said goodbye to her beloved "Zambi". Zambi  joined in 2012 was a regular visitor at St Anthony's,  also assisted with VPP presentations at the LA/SPCA Care Cadet Program as well as Delgado. Zambi was also active in EJGH Pet Assisted Therapy Program

Clay Latimer  said goodbye to her sweet "Nikki".  Nikki  joined in 2016 and retired in 2019.  Nikki was a regular visitor at Children's Hospital. 

Claire Sommers  said goodbye to her dear "Parker". Parker joined in 2011, retired in 2019.  He was a regular at St Margaret's and Reading to Rover. 

Kim Bradley said goodbye to her cherished  "Molly".  Molly joined in 2012 and was a regular visitor at Children's Hospital.

Jeanette Albert said goodbye to her much loved  "Toby". Toby  joined the VPP in 2012 and retired in 2017.  Toby was a regular visitor at Chateau Living. 

Brenda Becnel said goodbye to her treasured "Bindi".  Bindi joined in 2010 and was a regular visitor at Jo Ellen Smith.

Lynne Aranda  said goodbye to her adored "Splash".  Splash  joined in 2010 and retired in 2019.   Splash was a regular visitor at Chateau Living. 

Sabrina Jacks said goodbye to her precious "Voodoo".  Voodoo  joined in 2018 and was a regular visitor at Children's Hospital, K9 MSY Krewe and Reading to Rover. 

Malay Ghose Hajra said goodbye to his golden retriever, Mita. Mita joined VPP in 2007 and was a regular visiter to Walden Health Care center. Mita retired in 2018.
  Happy Retirement

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

Pamela Taquino retired Lady due to health issues.   Pamela and Lady joined the VPP in  2018 and were regulars at Magnolia School and Colonial Oaks. 

Suzette Hubbell retired Chloe due to age and health issues. Suzette and Chloe joined in 2011 and were regulars at St Tammany Parish Hospital.    

Charlotte Walker retired Beau due to health issues.   Charlotte and Beau joined the VPP in 2011 and were regulars at St Anthony's. 

Tobi Provenzano retired Cayenne due to health issues.   Tobi and Cayenne originally joined the VPP in 2004 and then rejoined in 2019.  They were most recently regulars at Chateau de Notre Dame.

Kate Geer retired Bella due to health issues.  Kate and Bella joined the VPP in 2017 and were regulars at St Margaret's.

Claire Sommers retired Sadie due to health issues.  Sadie joined the VPP in 2014 and was a regular at St Margaret's and Reading to Rover. 
 Quick Links

I hope this letter finds you and yours well. What a ride 2020 continues to be - hurricane cones of uncertainty, a new phase of COVID and the loss of our Lee.

I cannot say thank you enough to everyone who has donated to Lee's Legacy. To date, we have received almost $2,700 to split between the Visiting Pet Program and a donation from the VPP in Lee's name to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. We will continue to accept donations for Lee's Legacy through the end of the year. Again, thank you for your generosity! I believe Lee would be overwhelmed with the response.
As it relates to COVID and our ability to get back to visiting, the VPP board continues to be in touch and can share the following update with you:
  • Our airport and Children's Hospital teams are being asked to renew badges and get flu shots in anticipation of when we can get back to visiting. Thank you to Suzanne Christensen for leading those teams and keeping everyone updated.
  • Claire continues to be in touch with our different facilities about when/how we can return. With Orleans Parish still in Phase 3.1, we know that those facilities continue to be closed to visitors. Jefferson and St. Tammany Parish facilities are now scheduling appointments for families to visit residents.
  •  We are in contact with the Harahan Senior Center about using their facility for the November orientation, January evaluation and subsequent workshop. If we are unable to use the Harahan Senior Center, we have a back up facility in mind. We are hopeful to have these events barring any COVID setbacks.
There are still a lot of unknowns and we are doing our best to stay connected with our facilities during this time.

Thank you for your patience during this time. We will get back to doing what we do best at some point. We have to - we are Lee's legacy.

Nicole Parks
Lee's Legacy

Lee Gaffney was with the Visiting Pet Program (VPP) almost as long as there has been a Visiting Pet Program.   The VPP started in 1987 and Lee became a member in 1991.   If anyone talked about the VPP, in the same breath they mentioned Lee Gaffney. There just was not one without the other. 

In 2000 when the Visiting Pet Program became an independent 501(c3) non profit organization, Lee was our leader during that time of change and development.   It is not sure the board members at that time had any idea what they were getting into. But Lee was very persuasive. I don't think any of us truly realize the amount of work, effort, paperwork, meetings and filings it takes to develop an organization like the VPP. And our Lee managed all of these processes.  She truly was a powerhouse.  

During Lee's 29 years with the VPP, she motivated many people to join the VPP.   And inspired many of us to become even more active participants in the program.

And we can't forget all the GaffneyHounds at the other end of the leash:  Molly, Magoo, Pookie, Scruffy, Tuxedo, Bailey, Meghan Claire, Tallulah Marie, Stanley Watson, Gabrielle Pearl, Andrew Thomas and Harvey.

Lee also authored two books ("Recycled Pups: from rescued dog to therapy pet" and "Molly and the Accidental Adoption: A True Story") related to adoption of rescued dogs and turning them to therapy pet.

In short, we can all wholeheartedly appreciate everything Lee has ever done to make the Visiting Pet Program the successful organization it is today.   The current board collectively has Big shoes to fill in Lee's memory. And we accept that task to keep Lee's Legacy alive and vibrant into the future.  

Visiting Pet program has created a way for anyone to donate in loving memory of Lee Gaffney and her contribution to VPP. Please visit the VPP website (www.visitingpetprogram.org) and click on Lee's Legacy Donation button on the top.
COVID-19 and Our Pets

  • A small number of pets worldwide, including cats and dogs, have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, mostly after close contact with people with COVID-19.
  • Based on the limited information available to date, the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people is considered to be low.
  • It appears that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread from people to animals in some situations.
  • Treat pets as you would other human family members - do not let pets interact with people outside the household.
  • If a person inside the household becomes sick, isolate the person from everyone else, including pets.

What to do if you own Pets:
Because there is a risk that people with COVID-19 could spread the virus to animals, CDC recommends that pet owners limit their pet's interaction with people outside their household.
  • Keep cats indoors when possible and do not let them roam freely outside.
  • Walk dogs on a leash at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from others.
  • Avoid public places where a large number of people gather.
  • Do not put a mask on pets. Masks could harm your pet.

Protect pets if you are sick:
  • When possible, have another member of your household care for your pets while you are sick.
  • Avoid contact with your pet including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, sharing food, and sleeping in the same bed.
  • If you must care for your pet or be around animals while you are sick, wear a mask and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Guardian Angels
Donations were received from Lee Gaffney, Fay Schultz, Barbara Hyland, Kevin Hand, Danna and Mason Morris, Joy Sturtevant, Lori Heauser, and Diane Smith in memory of Parker, pet of Claire Sommers
Donations were received from Lee Gaffney, Barbara Hyland, Suzanne Christensen, Geraldine Jeffers, and Fay Schultz in memory of Danny Matte, partner of Kevin Hand
Donations were received from Kevin Hand, Claire Sommers, Barbara Hyland, Danna and Mason Morris, Fay Schultz, Lee Gaffney, Joy Sturtevant, and Creevy and Roger Clay in memory of Zambi, pet of Barbara and Dick Hyland.
Donations were received from Lee Gaffney and Kim Bradley in memory of Molly, pet of Kim Bradley
A donation was received from Barbara Hyland in memory of Bindi, pet of Brenda Becnel
A donation was received from Nancy Tatarski to VPP
A donation was received from Kevin Hand in memory of Zip, pet of Pam Bellone
A donation was received from United Way Midland County to VPP
Donations were received from Lee Gaffney, Barbara Hyland, Joy Sturtevant, and Brenda Chetta in memory of Voodoo, pet of Sabrina Jacks
A donation was received from Diane Smith in memory of Nikki, pet of Clay Latimer
A donation was received from Joy Sturtevant and Brenda Chetta in memory of Splash, pet of Lynn Arnada
Lee's Legacy donations were received from Danna and Mason Morris, Kevin Hand, Barbara Hyland, Lori Heauser, Rick and Pam Roth, Pam Bellone, Pam Toquino, Adrie Voors, Claire Sommers, Connie Back, Fay Schultz, Jeanette Albert, Michael and Tamra Carboni, Anne Morgan, Delaine Gendusa, Jane and Bill Cromartie, Jerry Gibel, Suzette Hubbell, Judith Baynes, Joy Sturtevant, Clay Latimer, Keri Stiegler, Lynda Marshall, Denise Mehurin, Helen Schneidau, Louis and Gayle Calato, Kathleen and Hames Morgan, Douglas and Suznne Christensen, Jude Harber-Stone, Cathy and Tony Young, Linda Ferguson, Jean and Steve Inman, Donna Williams, Brenda Chetta, Anne Escodedo, Pat Egers, and Diane Smith. 

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 [email protected]. The cost is $40 for 250 cards and can be paid via paypal on our web site.
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 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 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