Therapy dogs relieve stress and bring comfort to those in need

FRESNO, California - Dozens of four-legged friends are bringing comfort to the community, as part of Therapy Dogs International.

The dogs help relieve stress and bring comfort to those in need, but the local Fresno chapter said they need more volunteers.

The dogs are trained to do allow people to pet and hold them as they face difficult times.

The furry pups are not your typical service or emotional support dogs, they're actually certified through Therapy Dogs International to bring comfort to those in need.

"They reduce the stress level in whether it be residences, or patients in hospital," said Margaret Mabee, Therapy Dogs International.

Mabee, with the Fresno local chapter 220 said these therapy dogs are every bit cool, calm and collected.

"Therapy Dogs International welcomes all breeds of dogs, they just need to be over a year old, they have to have a good temperament," Mabee said.

That's how Maggie became a four-legged comfort companion. Karen Lima was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009.

She said Maggie was a stray and her daughters took the sweet pup in.

"They asked me if I wanted her," Lima said.

It was a perfect match, without knowing, Lima said she found her therapy dog.

"I had 12 surgeries in two years and every time I came home from a surgery she was waiting there for me so excited and lay in my lap," Lima said.

Lima said that's when she decided to train her dog and make her an official therapy dog.

The local chapter of Therapy Dogs International currently has 52 volunteers, but are looking to expand.

"We all know how large the Central Valley is, we need more dogs to help out the community," Mabee said.

She said they get request daily. The dogs sit at local libraries comforting kids while they read.

They also attend local colleges during finals and attend court for those testifying in an abuse case.

"For a moment there, it just brings a moment of relaxation, and that's what it's all about, spreading the love in our community," Mabee said.

Their next orientation is March 12.

For more information visit the Fresno Chapter local chapter: or call (559) 994-2912.

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