Montour County homeless shelter gets therapy dog

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MAHONING TOWNSHIP, MONTOUR COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A non-profit in Montour County recently acquired a puppy they hope to groom into a therapy dog.

The Gate House provides transitional programs for the recently homeless. Three weeks ago, the center’s board approved a four-legged addition to their full-time staff.

11-week-old Zoey is getting used to her new home.

Cindy Powers, the program director at the Gate House told Eyewitness News, “We have people that come in that are going through a really big struggle in their life, and I truly believe in the power of the comfort of an animal.”

Zoey is a miniature golden doodle whose mission at the house, once therapy trained, will be to relieve trauma among those who live there.

“Dogs like to have a purpose. They do best when they feel like they’re being, working,” said Powers.

Her purpose? To draw a smile from over two dozen displaced residents. The shelter houses 121 individuals on average each year but offers more than just a bed and a pillow.

“What I see more important is for them to gain these resources, gain these life skills. The importance of getting to work on time, employ-ability skills are a huge thing, social skills,” said Thomas Dougher, the executive director at the Gate House.

The end goal, with Zoey’s help, to transition residents to an independent lifestyle, focusing on past decisions to avoid potential setbacks.

“A lot of folks have to realize the reason that they’re in the position that they’re in now, so that they don’t repeat that,” said Dougher.

While Zoey won’t be eligible to begin therapy dog training until she turns one, the center say she just started at puppy obedience school last Thursday.

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