Robert Samberg, a war veteran who lives with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, has experienced a significantly changed outlook on life thanks to his pet, Kitty.
“Kitty is like my doctor at home, he is there for me,” said Robert.
Robert and Kitty became friends five years ago, when Robert became a Hope and Recovery Pets participant. The program, now in its sixth year, came to fruition through community visionary, Susan L. Conda. It pairs individuals living with mental illness with a pet that needs a loving home. Through donations and initial funding from Conda, the pet’s needs — including food, vet visits, supplies, behavior and obedience training and emergency care — are taken care of for life.
From the very beginning, the program saw tremendous results for both mental health patients and homeless pets. The pilot program unveiled that patients with mental illness, who had been frequently hospitalized, were no longer hospitalized after receiving their emotional support animal.
Patients with mental illness… were no longer hospitalized after receiving their emotional support animal.
Conda knew there was great potential for this program to grow with the right support. She felt that ProMedica could grow the program from a clinical perspective and saw numerous benefits for such a partnership.
“We realized we needed the ear, support, and collaboration of a major, comprehensive, human health care organization—such as ProMedica—whose vision is compatible with the overarching goal of the HARP program, of improving mental health and wellness,” Conda explained. “ProMedica and HARP seemed like the perfect fit.”
Today, ProMedica works with the Toledo Area Human Society to help patients find their suitable recovery pets, but the goal is to grow the HARP program to include additional facilities.