NAMI Collier County offers monthly puppy therapy

Petland in Naples brings puppies to the Sarah Ann Drop-In Center to interact with members
By: NAMI Collier County
FORT MYERS, Fla. - March 16, 2021 - PRLog -- In a time when physical contact is discouraged, NAMI (National Association for Mental Illness) Collier County is bringing furry "hugs" to participants. Petland Naples brings puppies to the Sarah Ann Drop-In Center once a month to interact with visitors who come to the center to participate in support groups and social and recreational activities.

"They make members laugh like we haven't heard in a long time," said Kristin Long, NAMI Collier's director of development.

The Center closed in March due to the pandemic and reopened in September. Although support groups were held virtually when the center was closed and NAMI Collier County staff reached out to participants, the isolation was especially hard on people with mental health diagnoses.

"Animals are so great, because they interact unconditionally," said Carol Anderson, a Sarah Ann Drop-In Center participant. "I am very isolated. This has made a huge difference in my life. They are so warm. You can't just grab a stranger, but you can hug puppies."

Being able to cuddle and play with the puppies uplifts moods and brings joy to center participants.

"It helps me and my fellow peers take what's bothering us away for a while," said Gregory Taylor, a Center participant. "They don't have to worry about what we have to worry about."

For more than 25 years, NAMI's Sarah Ann Drop-In Center has been a confidential, accepting and safe environment where people over the age of 18 with a mental health diagnosis can visit daily. The center is managed and operated by people who have a lived experience with mental health diagnoses and recovery oriented.

For more information about the Sara Ann Drop-Inn Center and NAMI Collier County programs, visit

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