Move over dogs, there is a new fluffy therapy helper in town. Llamas are emerging as a new force in our battle with depression and PTSD.
The llamas have been popping up all over the place in an effort to reduce blood pressure and get people feeling better about their lives. The Llamas are said to help “alleviate loneliness, lower blood pressure, and reduce stress.”
Around 20 llamas are currently registered with Pet Partners, a national nonprofit organization for therapy animals, in addition to the dozens that are owned and operated by private organizations.
Owners have reported seeing people suffering with dementia and other illnesses light up when they are visited by the llamas. They are perfect for people who aren't able to handle dogs or are perhaps allergic to them.
To be able to be accepted as a therapy llama, the animal must be pass a series of tests that includes being touched by strangers and staying unaffected while people argue near them.
One particularly special llama Rojo has had over 600 visits to children and elderly people! “I’ve had people 100 years old cry because they’re just so happy to meet our animals,” owner Lori Gregory said. Lori knew Rojo was different from birth as he never strayed too far from where the humans were. Once she realized how much he enjoyed being around people, she knew that the life of a therapy llama was for him.
While the llamas are still only being used in a few facilities, their owners are hoping the trend catches on.
How about you, would you accept a llama as a therapy animal?