AN animal lover has turned a bad experience around to help others benefit from therapy with furry friends.
Suzanne Napper and her husband Steve have started a charity called PetsCanHelp, which aims to help people use animals for therapy.
“It’s something we’ve only recently started, but something we’ve had an interest in a long time,” said Suzanne, 50.
“My grandson is borderline autistic and animal therapy can help with that.
“I’ve had animals all my life. They have brought me so much happiness that I wanted to give something back with animals.
“Pets can be used as assisted therapy. Pets as therapy (Pat) dogs and cats are often used in nursing homes.”
Suzanne said that they can give companionship, reduce blood pressure and help build confidence, as well as other benefits.
“Lots of different types of animal can be used for pet therapy,” said Suzanne, from Gilesgate, Durham.
She and Steve have guinea pigs, ferrets, dogs, ducks, sheep and ponies at their Sherburn Hill stables.
“We would talk to each person who comes to us to establish what we could do and what animal might benefit them,” she said
Suzanne was bitten by a dog when she was 18, but overcame her own problems with animals by using them as therapy.
“It took a bit of my top lip,” she said. “It made me very wary of animals.
“We had a cat and dog at home, but I would not let animals near my face for a very long time.
“I was still working with animals as my parents own pet shops in Durham, which made me more comfortable, but I felt shy and self-conscious about my scar. By doing dog shows I was able to get out and socialise.”
“Animals have given me so much.”
Suzanne is also keen to reach out to Steven Goldsmith, from Pennywell, and his family.
Three-year-old Steven was bitten by a pony earlier in the year and his mum said it has left him scared of animals.
Suzanne said: “It seems such a shame for him to go through his life being scared of animals.
“If there’s any way we could help, we would be happy to do it for free.”
For more information at PetsCanHelp call Suzanne on 07899 774 145.