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Albany/HV: Ulster County SPCA Therapy Dogs Help Substance Abusers
In the wake of the recent heroin epidemic sweeping the nation young adults in Ulster County are turning to pet therapy for help. Alexandra Weishaupt has more from one young lady whose reaping the benefits of the pilot program.
ULSTER COUNTY, N.Y. — It’s an eight week program that guides kids to not want to use.
For 23-year-old Sloane LaPointe and her 8-month-old sidekick “Moo,” sobriety is now a way of life.
“He keeps me active, we go hiking he needs me, so it’s amazing to have someone there with me,” said LaPointe.
But it wasn’t always that way. Sloane was battling addiction with drugs before turning to a pet for therapy.
She says caring for her pup, who was adopted from the SPCA, adds a sense of responsibility to her life that she didn’t have before.
Together they now attend the weekly Awareness Substance Abuse Education meetings, that she says are guiding her in the right direction and helping her maintain her newly found healthy habits.
“A lot of times is when kids sit down in a circle of people, they get nervous, I have anxiety, having a dog there with you relaxes you, it makes you calmer, I think it kind of opens you up to talk more,” said LaPointe.
“When I bring my dog to meetings she goes around and all the kids pet her and its already working,” said Marie Shultis, Ulster County SPCA Director.
For other young adults ages 16 through 24 who are on probation, battling addictions or in need of some direction, the animals are proving beneficial during the rehabilitation process. And now this drug-free dog owner is encouraging others to join the movement.
“Kids think that in order to have fun and to go out there they need to use drugs, and I think it’s the complete opposite, I honestly do, and that’s what kids will learn, it’s not a maybe, it’s a definite, just give it a try,” said LaPointe.