TUCSON, Ariz. - There's no doubt humans and animals share a special bond. Our pets are always there for us in times of need.
There's a free program in Tucson designed to help those during especially difficult times.
Pet therapy programs became popular after 9/11, where there was a need for a connection with animals after such a traumatic event, according to Veronica Zimmerman with the Humane Society of Southern Arizona.
The Humane Society's Comfort Dog Program is designed to help people in a time of crisis, grief, loss, or trauma.
"This type of service allows them to be able to have a warm, compassionate, loving heartbeat next to them," Zimmerman said.
The holiday season is a time a lot of people are reaching out to spend time with a comfort dog, Zimmerman says.
The Humane Society partners with programs like MADD and Homicide Survivors of Southern Arizona. Comfort dogs go to therapy groups, candlelight vigils, and one-on-one visitations to help you cope and heal. Visits aren't usually long-term.
"During those times where you're grieving something in your life that is very significant to you, this is actually very helpful for people to be able to communicate their feelings and be able to move forward," Zimmerman said.
Volunteers go through training with their dogs for the program and travel throughout Southern Arizona.