The Importance of Furry Friends


Rebekah Froehlich, Editor-In-Chief


For Christmas, Santa (aka our wonderful principals) gifted Journalism with a visit from Ozzy the therapy dog. During our visit with the calmest boxer ever, Animal Friends was kind enough to present to us some information about the work they do and about therapy dogs. Even though Animal Friends is so near to us, we found out that there is a lot we did not know. They are much more than a pet store. 

The first aspect of running an animal shelter is having animals. While other facilities may choose breeding, Animal Friends chooses rescuing. They fill their shelter by taking animals in off the street that are found by their “animal police,” accepting animals from owners who are no longer able to care for them, and sometimes they even take animals from other, smaller shelters who are having trouble finding people to adopt. In September, Animal Friends was even able to rescue 117 dogs from one house in Ross Township. They were luckily able to provide medical care and training to these dogs. However, even with a large facility, Animal Friends is not always able to care for every animal. Sometimes they need to call on specialty services for a specific need of an animal, or their breed. They will not hesitate to pass an animal on to someone who will be able to help them most. 

More than anything, Animal Friends thinks about the well being of their four legged friends. Home to dogs, cats, and rabbits, they make sure they are able to care appropriately for every animal. Do not worry, even with so many animals, they do not spend all of their time in cages. The staff could never socialize all the pets themselves, so volunteers become an integral part of the community. One way to volunteer is by fostering a pet. This may look like taking a dog home on weekends when the foster parent is home from their job, or housing a whole litter of kittens over the summer. If you wish to volunteer, but your parents would never allow a foster animal to live with you, do not worry. There are many volunteer positions that take place at the Animal Friends facility. Those who are 16 or older can socialize cats and rabbits alone, and dogs with a parent or guardian. Those 18 and older can volunteer in any position. Animal Friends also hosts birthday parties, which require volunteers to help out. The animals come first at a place like Animal Friends and they make sure every pet has the opportunity to play and be happy. 

Overall, Animal Friends wants animals to be happy and healthy. Their mission statement reads, “Animal Friends, a premier companion animal resource community, is committed to promoting the animal-human bond and nurturing relationships with companion animals which are guided by compassion.” They are committed to this every day by being involved in the community through events such as Customer Appreciation Day, where profits from flash deals benefit their animals, and a special Valentine’s Day Mutts and Mingle with wine and a little matchmaking. To find out more information about Animal Friends, visit their website

While we loved hearing about how amazing Animal Friends was, it was equally as exciting to learn about Ozzy and therapy dogs. A commonly confused aspect of therapy dogs is that they are service dogs. This is not true. A service dog provides a service to their owner, while a therapy dog provides a service to others and their owner guides them in this work. Therapy dogs are most commonly seen in hospitals, schools, and nursing homes, but can work in a number of areas. To become certified, Ozzy had to pass many tests. While any dog can theoretically become a therapy dog, some breeds are more predisposed to pass the tests as they test things that cannot really be trained, such as a dog’s demeanor. Ozzy is part of the minority as boxers are not typically therapy dogs. His owner, David Belau, shared with us that Ozzy has been calm, cool, and collected from the start and they could not be more happy to have been approved. Now they have the opportunity to travel around the city to help people from all walks of life and put a smile on their face. 

Animals play an important role in our world, and pets hold a special place in so many hearts. Animal Friends and therapy dogs alike show the selfless nature of pets by working for the good of the community. They deserve to be appreciated and supported. Next time you are looking for something to do on a Saturday, volunteer at Animal Friends. And next time you see a therapy dog, recognize all the hard work the dog, and his or her owner went through to wear that vest. Everyone deserves a great furry friend in their life.