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BARL rescue animal could become a therapy dog

Photo by Aaron Paden/Brookhaven Animal Rescue League President Lu Becker, Florida Care Properties Director Jennifer Almo, BARL Shelter Manager Rita Acy and Florida Care representative Corinthian Wall gather to introduce Tadpole and Nyla to the clients at Florida Care Thursday. One of the dogs will be chosen to stay at the facility.

Photo by Aaron Paden/Brookhaven Animal Rescue League President Lu Becker, Florida Care Properties Director Jennifer Almo, BARL Shelter Manager Rita Acy and Florida Care representative Corinthian Wall gather to introduce Tadpole and Nyla to the clients at Florida Care Thursday. One of the dogs will be chosen to stay at the facility.

The Brookhaven Animal Rescue League may have found a special home for one of their dogs. Nyla and Tadpole visited Florida Care Properties next to the Lincoln Residential, where they were both big hits with the clients there.

Florida Care provides vocational services to the residents of the Lincoln Residential Center. Last year, Florida Care moved from their old location on West Congress to their new building, and it was then that an opportunity arose.

“We always wanted a pet care class, but in our former building we really never did have enough room to branch out into that,” Florida Care Director Jennifer Almo said.

Almo plans to have some clients volunteer with BARL in the hopes of getting them involved in the community, and when she was speaking with BARL President Lu Becker, a second idea arose.

“I asked them if they would be interested in adopting a dog,” Becker said. “We waive the adoption fee, I bring a dog and teach the residents how to train it to be a therapy dog.”

The idea is that while the clients of Florida Care are helping the dog, the dog is also helping the residents.

Becker brought Tadpole and Nyla to Florida Care Thursday, and the clients immediately gravitated towards the dogs. Becker was pleased, both with the reaction and also with the behavior of the dogs.

“I was just telling a friend how well behaved they were to let that many people swarm them,” she said. “They’re young dogs and they’re like a young child, but they both handled it easily.”

Almo said she saw her clients light up when the animals were brought in, and she’s working on interviewing the clients to decide which dog would be the best fit for them.

“I really want to take into consideration what the clients want,” she said. “Whatever choice we make, I want to make sure that the pets that we choose is the right one for our clients here.”

Almo said it was a difficult choice for her to make.

“The clients are the same way,” she said. “They love animals, too.”