NAMI in Collier County introduces pet therapy for those in need of a furry hug

Published: May 5, 2021 6:31 PM EDT
Updated: May 5, 2021 6:36 PM EDT

The stress of the pandemic is getting to some and the National Alliance on Mental Illness Collier County is trying to help.

The help comes in the form of furry hugs.

Petland Naples brings puppies to the Sarah Ann Drop-In Center once a month to interact with visitors who attend the center for support groups and recreational activities.

The program was started during the pandemic to help people who have struggled with isolation.

For Greg Taylor, it’s an escape.

“It takes a lot of daily worries away from us for an hour at a time to where we don’t have to deal with our struggles,” said Taylor, who has depression.

The pandemic made it harder for Taylor.

But the puppy parties help him and Rose Monteiro find happiness again.

“It brings laughter and joy, you know just to see the little puppies running around, to hold them, to get kisses from them,” Monteiro said. “It’s incredible.”

Tara DiMarco, of Collier County, said it’s great therapy.

“People need this.”