Larimer Animal People Partnership team Amy Fristoe and her cat, Homer, listen while Marlo Rulon, 8, reads a book. LAAP human and animal volunteers were at Council Tree Library on Sunday for
children to meet and read to therapy animals. / Sarah Jane Kyle/The Coloradoan
It’s been a hard month. I’ve been grieving the loss of one of my best friends who died in a car crash just weeks ago. Coming back to work, coming back to Causes and coming
back to real life was very hard.
So when I walked into Council Tree Library on Sunday to meet the animal and human volunteers of Larimer Animal People Partnership, I wasn’t sure I was ready to be the chipper Causes reporter. I
But then a big, goofy golden retriever named Rex came up and leaned against my leg. Just leaned and turned his soft head up in a big doggy smile. For lack of a better word, it was a hug. And
suddenly in that moment, I was full.
This kind of interaction is one of [LAPP] member Yvonne Hanning’s favorite parts about volunteering with Rex. Though the team’s usual volunteer location is at the libraries to work with kids,
Hanning said she loves seeing the interaction between Rex and the adults who wander in “needing something.”
“It’s good to read with the kids, but random people will come in here and they seem to have a need,” she said. “It’s when they make that connection with Rex, and he can bring something to them
that I love. You’re just really moved by whatever interaction just happened.”
[LAPP] volunteers work in a variety of locations in Northern Colorado, including the libraries, Crossroads Safehouse, Touchstone Health Partners, nursing homes and more.
The animal and human teams, which can include dogs, cats or other animals, undergo extensive training and screenings before serving the public. Volunteer locations are usually driven not by a
human’s likes, but by the personality and needs of the animal partner.
“You have to match your animal’s likes to the venue,” Hanning said. “Rex is pretty active. He’s not a couch potato kind of guy, so the libraries are a nice environment for him.”
Amy Fristoe, a longtime volunteer with the organization, has multiple animals who volunteer at a wide array of locations. Two cats work on the weekends. Three dogs, all Labrador retrievers, keep
her active during the week. One of her cats, Homer, made an appearance at Sunday’s library event. Sprawled on his leopard blanket, Homer preened himself and patiently listened to child after child
reading book after book.
He even let children take him for a walk around the library in a stroller, recruiting more children to the animal area.
“It helped me (to read to Homer and the dogs),” said Marlo Rulon, 8. “They sat and listened to me. It was fun.”
Sarah Jane Kyle is the Coloradoan reporter covering volunteerism, nonprofits and philanthropy. Follow her on Twitter @sarahjanekyle or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/reportersarahjane.
Larimer Animal People Partnership team Yvonne Hanning and her dog, Rex, a golden retriever, show Katelyn Robinson, 5, a trick. [LAPP] human and animal volunteers were at
Council Tree Library in Fort Collins on Sunday for children to meet and read to therapy animals. / By Sarah Jane Kyle/The Coloradoan
Larimer Animal People Partnership
What: Larimer Animal People Partnership is an umbrella organization for therapy animal teams certified through Pet Partners or TD Inc. The
organization visist libraries through the Animal Afternoon Programs, Crossroads Safehouse, Oakbrook II Senior Citizens and Touchstone Health Partners. Many members also volunteer with MCR, Poudre
Valley Hospital and elementary schools in our community.
Volunteer prerequisites: Volunteer teams must be certified as Pet Partners through a Delta evaluation (this would include many types of animals
such as cats, rabbits, horses, etc.) or to certify through TD Inc., which certifies therapy dog teams. The teams who have registered through one of these organizations may then join LAPP and
volunteer through the program. Some sites have their own prerequisites,which can include drug tests or background checks. Pet Partner teams must get requalified every two years. All animals require a
pre-screening by a vet for health purposes.
Volunteer responsibilities: Vary according to locations.
Typical time commitment per week: Volunteers set their own schedule. Some teams volunteer once a month and others several times a week.
“It’s when (people) make that connection with Rex and he can bring something to them that I love. You’re just really moved by whatever interaction just happened.” [LAPP] volunteer Yvonne Hanning
on her dog, Rex.