Therapy Dogs Helping Children With Autism - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Therapy Dogs Helping Children With Autism

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As many families know, dogs can make great pets.
But, thanks to a local non-profit, they can also change lives.

For years Therapy Dogs United has helped children and adults in Erie and the Pittsburgh area, and now they're going to help children all the way in North Dakota.

From young children to the elderly, certified therapy dogs locally have brought joy to thousands of people.
And now, an organization all the way in North Dakota is seeking their help.

Starsky and Hutch are both certified therapy dogs, trained to help children with autism.
Therapy Dogs United is a local non-profit that provides certified training for the dogs.
For months, the poodles have been making a difference in the lives of children with autism. They bring them comfort, and help them come out of their shell.
And after his training in complete in May, Hutch is going to serve as a therapy dog at a group home for children with autism, in North Dakota.

"What you teach them is to go up to people, to be friendly, to greet them," said Therapy Dogs United Volunteer Trainer, Phyllis Aiello.
"They (children with autism) don't realize that in order to get the dog to do what they want to do they have to communicate, and they forget about some of the inhibitions that they have with doing that and they'll jump right in when they see that it's a dog," said Therapy Dogs United Founder and Executive Director, Pat Christianson.

Therapy Dogs United has 430 certified trained dogs here in Erie and in Pittsburgh as well.

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