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Therapy pet visits 178th Wing

178th Wing member pets Gouda, the first therapy pet for the Animal Assisted Activities Program to visit the wing

178th Wing member pets Gouda, the first therapy pet for the Animal Assisted Activities Program to visit the wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Elisabeth Gelhar)

Members of the 178th Wing visit with Gouda, a certified volunteer therapy pet, as part of the Animal Assisted Activities Program at the Springfield Air National Guard Base in Ohio, July 11, 2018. Gouda’s visit marks the official implementation of the program, ran by the Director of Psychological Health.

Members of the 178th Wing visit with Gouda, a certified volunteer therapy pet, as part of the Animal Assisted Activities Program at the Springfield Air National Guard Base in Ohio, July 11, 2018. Gouda’s visit marks the official implementation of the program, ran by the Director of Psychological Health. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Elisabeth Gelhar)

SPRINGFIELD-BECKLEY AIR GUARD STATION, Ohio --

Members of the 178th Wing visit with Gouda, a certified volunteer therapy pet, as part of the Animal Assisted Activities Program at the Springfield Air National Guard Base in Ohio, July 11, 2018.

Gouda’s visit marks the official implementation of the program, ran by the Director of Psychological Health. Gouda and her handler are the first of many expected future visits to the Wing.

The purpose of the Animal Assisted Activities Program is to promote emotional well-being for the Airmen with the 178th Wing. Potential impact from animal visits include physical, relationship and mental health benefits.

“This program can reduce members’ occupational stressors. The act of seeing an animal or petting produces an automatic relax response as well as releases endorphins,” said Amy Hernandez, the Director of Psychological Heath.

Gouda and his handler visited 50 members in their work stations throughout the base.

“Even if it's just for a few minutes, the joy on my co-workers’ faces when a dog visits just shows what a great stress reliever it is for them,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kiesha Williams, a 178th Wing member.

For more information about this program or to become a volunteer please contact Amy Hernandez at 937-324-2181.