TPAN, Lurie Children's Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine Division Head and TPAN Board of Directors member Dr. Rob Garofalo and Felines & Canines adoption center held a kick-off event for a new program, Paws N' Effect, March 31 at Felines & Canines on Chicago's North Side.
The program's goal is to provide TPAN's adult HIV-positive clients who qualify with a rescue dog from Felines & Canines, with the hope that this new relationship has an impact on quality of life and medication adherence.
TPAN Client Services Director Julie Supple explained that Garofalo donated $30,000 through his foundation, Fred Says, to TPAN early last year. Fred is the name of Garofalo's Yorkie.
Shortly after that donation, Supple and Garofalo had a conversation about the ways that money could be used to help the community. Those discussions led to the formation of Paws N' Effect. When Supple's therapy dog, Bella ( who was also TPAN's therapy dog for almost 10 years ), died last summer, she began looking for a place to adopt another dog and found Feline's & Canines.
During a visit to the facility, Supple said the conversation with Felines & Canines Executive Director Abby Smith shifted to the Paws N' Effect program and from that a partnership was born. Garofalo signed off on it late last year. His seed money will help support the educational and therapeutic program. It will also help reduce some of the basic costs of dog ownership.
Supple explained that the program is designed to help participants with their anxiety, depression, loneliness and medication compliance. She said the structured schedule of taking care of a dog may help participants take their medication every day.
"This program is a labor of love for me because it pulls together all the things that are important in my personal and professional lives," said Garofalo. "I benefitted myself by having a dog when I was diagnosed as HIV-positive. I am not sure how I would have gotten through those days without my dog. To be able to help other people through this program feel better and thrive with HIV while bonding with their dog means a lot to me. This is probably the most important program I have ever worked on. We have only recently begun to understand the power of the human/animal bond so if this program works it can be a model for other communities across the country."
"I am really excited to be a part of this project working with dogs who need homes," said Supple. "I have been an avid pet lover my whole life and know from my own experience and bond with my dog in so many ways saved my life. If having a dog can have the same impact as it did with me this would be an amazing gift to our clients who are isolated, worried and/or sad. We, at TPAN, are excited for this partnership with Abby at Felines & Canines and are looking forward to what the futures holds."
"We have placed many animals with people to be an emotional support to them and have seen first-hand how it can change somebody's life," said Smith. "As a lesbian-owned business, we are excited to be a part of this program, give back to our LGBTQ community and establish ourselves as a place where people can be themselves and get the assistance they need to care for their pet. We are excited to be able to place our dogs with eligible TPAN's clients and give them a great life."
To inquire about the program, contact Supple at firstname.lastname@example.org or 773-989-9400, ext. 240; or Dayna Flores at email@example.com or 773-632-5583.