Animal Therapy

Animal Therapy

Animals not only help us to live happier lives, but also healthier lives. The Tallahassee Memorial Animal Therapy program is the only of its kind in the Big Bend and has been fostering therapeutic bonds between people and animals since 2005. With more than 150 teams, the animals and their handlers that make up the program visit nearly 50 different facilities a year, making a powerful impact on the community.

In efforts to help keep this program strong and growing, the Tallahassee Memorial Animal Therapy team – coupled with volunteers, the TMH Foundation and community partners – hosts multiple events throughout the year to help generate awareness and share this service with those in need.

animal therapy groupOne of the most memorable members of this program is Rikki Mitchell, the late golden retriever who was a groundbreaker in animal therapy. While Rikki is gone, she is not forgotten – her spirit and legacy lives on through many Animal Therapy programs.

This past September, Rikki was once again honored during the unveiling ceremony of a bronze sculpted bust of the golden retriever, which lives on display outside
of the Tallahassee Memorial Rehabilitation Center. This symbolic gesture was made possible thanks to the combined efforts of many people – including the TMH Foundation who helped raise the funds, Sandy Proctor who sculpted the bust, Chuck and Patty Mitchell who were Rikki’s owners, and of course all of the donors and volunteers of Animal Therapy.

In October, the community extended another helping hand as many came together to make the “Friends of Rikki” event a success. Hosted by Hearth & Soul, the local store selected TMH’s Animal Therapy program as their “Not- For-Profit” partner for October, and not only donated the proceeds from the sale of their fall candle, but also matched the amount raised.

“We were honored to have this incredible program as one of our Nonprofit Partners and appreciate the wonderful volunteers and fur babies who bring comfort to so many,” said Susie Transou, owner of Hearth & Soul and former board member for Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare. “We applaud the positive impact Tallahassee Memorial’s Animal Therapy program brings to our community.”

To help Rikki’s legacy live on and ensure that the Animal Therapy program has sustainability in the years to come, Chuck and Patty Mitchell worked with the TMH Foundation to set up an endowment in Rikki’s name – the Friends of Rikki Endowment. To learn more about how you can support or get involved with Animal Therapy, please visit TMH.ORG/AnimalTherapy or contact the TMH Foundation at 850-431-5931.

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