SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Therapy animals have always provided comfort to people during difficult times, but with social distancing guidelines, it has been hard for them to interact with the public.
On Wednesday, the Helen Woodward Animal Center came up with a creative way to bring together therapy pets and Alzheimer’s patients.
They held drive-thru pet therapy sessions.
"Animals don't care what we look like. They don't care what condition we're in. If we give them a smile and a pet, they're 100% our best friends," said spokesperson Jessica Gercke.
Alpacas named Kronk and Kuzko, joined several other animals, including a sheep named Oreo, and a lizard named Sebastian, to bring joy to eight vehicles carrying patients and caregivers.
Therapy pets at Helen Woodward
"These are all animals that love human touch, love human friendships," said Gercke.
Each patient sat in their vehicle, while staff brought the different therapy pets to their vehicles. They also brought cards with information about each animal.
Through the windows, you could see patients clap their hands and smile.
News 8's Marcella Lee, brought her mom.
"Pet therapy is such an important thing," said Alzheimer's San Diego spokesperson Eugeina Welch.
"This quarantine, being home for these 10 weeks, creates extra stress. So an opportunity to get out and see something new and different, it's not every day a llama walks up to your car window," said Welch.
Last month Kronk and Kuzco were a hit, visiting Boulder Creek Post Acute in Poway. Through the window, they brought smiles to seniors.
"Right now joy is so necessary," said Gercke. "We're all in a unique situation that's stressful for a lot of people."
"We really try to teach people about living in the moment, making most of what you can and living with Alzheimer's. And so this is an example of living with it. Just because you don't remember it later, doesn't mean you won't get enjoyment now," said Welch.
Helen Woodward offers pet therapy sessions via Zoom. For more information click here.