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Therapy Dogs Visit Boys & Girls Club of Utica

The Boys and Girls Club of Utica got a visit from some furry friends Tuesday afternoon. There was lots of snuggles and smiles but these dogs serve a serious purpose. The trained therapy dogs are used in elderly homes and schools to help people in a variety of unwanted or unexpected situations.
The Boys and Girls Club of Utica got a visit from some furry friends Tuesday afternoon. There was lots of snuggles and smiles but these dogs serve a serious purpose. The trained therapy dogs are used in elderly homes and schools to help people in a variety of unwanted or unexpected situations.
The kids were lined up at the door waiting for the therapy dogs to arrive. For some who don't have pets at home it was a chance to pet and cuddle with the dogs and for others it was just a nice change of pace for the daily after school program.
Seven dogs were brought in to spread holiday cheer among 50 plus anxious children. This is the first time the dogs have made an appearance at the boys and girls club but the trained therapy animals certainly make their way throughout the community.
"We've been doing the program for about five years now, it's just becoming more and more popular and getting more and more requests not just from nursing homes anymore but from children's organizations," said Donna Gatto, Coordinator of the Dog Therapy Program For Cornell Cooperative Extension.
Gatto says the children’s' response to the dogs is amazing.
"You would've thought the fifth Beatle just left the room, so, that's how excited these kids get, coming into an organization like this and being with the kids it just kind of calms them down, they get to visit with dogs, learn about a dog and humane education we try to show them,” said Gatto.
And you can see it in the kids' smiles.
"They’re cute, they're fuzzy and they like to cuddle with people,” said 9-year-old Imarra.
"I feel happy and excited, I like dogs because they play with you and they like to be pet," says 7-year-old Denisio.
Santa also came to visit the kids at the Boys and Girls Club Tuesday night. Mr. and Mrs. Claus brought their own registered therapy "reindogs" and brought some goodies for the children.

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