By Marian Baker, Staff Writer
Heller Service Corps, the Greenville Humane Society and Greenville County Animal Care have served Greenville County individually for years. This year, these three organizations have formed a new partnership to offer an exciting opportunity to Furman students to volunteer and get their puppy fix.
Puppy Therapy volunteer Cawood Habenicht, ‘19, helped bring the program to Furman as coordinator for animal interests for Heller. Habernicht was approached by the Humane Society, which was looking to expand its existing pet therapy program.
“When I became coordinator of Greenville Humane Society volunteering, I spoke with director of the Humane Society, and they were very interested in bringing this program to Furman students,” Habernicht said.
The basis of the program is simple.
“With this program, you take a puppy, and you teach a lesson,” she explained. “You can teach lessons at community centers on anything from pet responsibility with kids to even animal overpopulation. After the lesson, you then gather around in a circle and play with the dog.”
Under this new program, Furman students are first educated on how to run an informative program with the help of a canine buddy at the Greenville Humane Society. After training, student pairs can then visit community centers around Greenville and host educational programs with dogs from the Humane Society. For students that love animals, it is the perfect opportunity to hang out with cute puppies while also serving the community, Habernicht says.
Habernicht has high hopes for the growth of the program. Currently, the program has about 20-25 students, but Heller is always looking for more volunteers.
“Right now, the word is just getting out, people are just hearing about it,” Habernicht said. “Currently, the program is really thriving, and we are doing very well. We have a good number of volunteers, but it would always be great to have more, especially when people have scheduling conflicts.”
For the upcoming school year, Habernicht would also like to see more upperclassmen join the program.
“I also don’t want this program to be specifically for freshmen like it is now. It would be great to have other people as well,” Habernicht said.
Habernicht truly believes that a wide variety of people would enjoy volunteering with pet therapy. So many students anticipate pet therapy events at Furman; this opportunity would give students the chance to reap the benefits of pet therapy on a regular basis, she says.