Pets and Friends screens and trains volunteer pet-owner teams and then helps them select long-term care facilities that they will visit regularly for at least a year. Dogs, cats and their people are screened and trained to interact with the disabled, elderly, chronically ill and mentally ill in an institutional setting. Pet visitation helps relieve stress, increase optimism and addresses the basic human need for companionship. During a typical visit, a volunteer team spends about an hour interacting with residents, who quickly form a heartfelt connection with the companion animal. Conversation flows and spirits are noticeably lifted. Volunteers make a point of visiting on a regular schedule to maximize residents' sense of security and promote a positive outlook.
LUSH funds went to expand the volunteer program with manuals, badges and IDs.