The Faithful Friends
What is Faithful Friends?
Faithful Friends is a non-profit organization and a ministry of Houston Baptist Church that brings therapy animals to area schools, nursing homes, libraries, and hospitals. During midterms at the University of Houston Clear Lake, we bring out therapy animals for “Pet Away Stress” events for students and faculty. We also bring out animals to the Helen Hall Library for its “Read to the Dogs” program, which pairs up struggling young readers with a therapy dog they can read out loud to. Reading out loud to an animal is less stressful and scary than reading out loud to an adult, especially when you lack confidence in your reading ability. Over time, we find the children gain confidence and ultimately their reading ability improves.
How many facilities do you provide animal therapy for?
In 1993, Shari Ferguson founded the organization in League City and started off providing therapy animals for the residents at Harbor View, an assisted living facility that is no longer in business. There are now close to 300 members and 25 facilities that we service, and dozens of others are on a waiting list. The more active volunteers we have, the more places and people we can reach.
Do you use only dogs as therapy animals?
A therapy animal does not have to be a dog specifically. There are therapy cats, ferrets, and guinea pigs in our program. Each animal is a volunteer’s personal pet and each owner trains their own pet. The pets have to pass a “good citizenship test” and other qualifications in order to become a part of the organization. A therapy animal’s age may range from puppy to senior. Each animal may be more suited for a particular type of environment. For example, if a therapy animal likes to constantly walk, they would be suited for a nursing home visit. A therapy animal that can sit or lay for an hour or more is likely to be better at participating in the Helen Hall Library’s R.E.A.D. program
How can one become a part of Faithful Friends?
Faithful Friends is always looking for volunteers and you don’t have to own a therapy animal to participate. We have many positions such as bookkeeping, social media, and more. Visit www.faithfulfriendsaat.com or call us at 281-488-8517.