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Pune’s first animal-assisted therapy centre aims to help those dealing with Covid loss

A venture by Lipi Khemka, the centre offers patients therapies and healing solutions with the assistance of trained therapy animals.

By: Express News Service | Pune |
Updated: July 4, 2021 11:53:45 am
The 7,500 square-feet premises of Swakaya at Boat Club Road currently houses 10 therapy cats, eight rabbits and seven visiting therapy dogs.

While the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic has ebbed, it has left behind feelings of grief, uncertainty and loss of hope for many. Swakaya, a holistic healing and wellness centre which opened its doors in the city on Saturday, aims to help people deal with such feelings. A venture by Lipi Khemka, the centre offers patients therapies and healing solutions with the assistance of trained therapy animals.

“Animal-assisted therapy or pet therapy is a globally recognised method which involves caring for or spending time with an animal during a therapy session. The awareness in India is considerably low but the results are exceptionally positive. Earlier, I myself was wary of animals but while I was facing tough times, we had a cat come into our lives. Slowly and steadily, she bonded with my family and the challenges we were facing diminished. I feel that it was some strength that the cat gave all of us. When a regular cat can do so much, then a therapy animal can help people more,” said Khemka, founder-director at Swakaya.

The 7,500 square-feet premises of Swakaya at Boat Club Road currently houses 10 therapy cats, eight rabbits and seven visiting therapy dogs. Khemka said they plan to introduce hamsters and guinea pigs for small children. The pets are looked after by in-house vets and therapists for their training.

A venture by Lipi Khemka, the centre offers patients therapies and healing solutions with the assistance of trained therapy animals.

“We have tied up with Animal Angels Foundation, a non-profit organisation in Pune and we have seven counsellors currently on board with us. Their team of therapists not only helps in training the animals but is also there to assist with the therapy sessions,” said Khemka.

“With everything coming to a standstill, children and the young are at home feeling helpless with an uncertain future staring back at them. Many are still coming to terms with the loss of a loved one due to Covid-19… we hope that the interactive sessions with therapy pets help them. For individuals who might be unable to attend sessions physically, online sessions will be curated with the therapy pet,” she said.

Khemka said the comprehensive healing of the body, mind and soul should be accessible and available for all. “We have a reading room where children can read for the trained animals, a cat patio where one can engage in activities with the felines and specially trained dogs who can help children with special needs, senior citizens with ailments, physically challenged individuals or individuals with depression and anxiety. We also have open and closed spaces for meditative and therapeutic activities,” she said.

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