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ONLY ON 3: AUMC's PAWS Ministry brings man's best friend to visit seniors

LEE COUNTY, Ala. (WRBL) -  A unique and loving outreach ministry at Auburn United Methodist Church has "gone to the dogs" in a phenomenal way.

Tuesday, News 3 tagged along with Jason Mohrman and his dog Ripley for one of their special visits to Harbor in Opelika.  Mohrman rescued Ripley a few years ago from the Lee County Humane Society. Ripley is calm and adores being petted; making her the perfect member of AUMC's PAWS Ministry.  Jason and Ripley work as a team to draw residents out in conversation.

AUMC's PAWS Ministry began ten years ago under Rhonda Scott who brought the idea to Ann Moss. Together they set up the program to bring pets to assisted living facilities, retirement homes and adult care centers all over East Alabama. The goal is the same, to have at least one team visit each facility twice a month and help residents remember fond memories of their own pets.  

"Often our friends will share stories of past pets and different things, so it's a neat connection point," explained Morhman.

The duo stops by Harbor at Opelika as often as they can. The memory care home is devoted to Dementia and Alzheimer residents. Caregivers say PAWS dogs are always welcome visitors.

"The dogs bring so much joy and life into our community. Some of the residents don't smile on a regular basis, or they don't want to. They light up when the animals come in, that's for sure," said Ryan McFerrin, Executive Director at Harbor at Opelika.
"It's extraordinary.  We receive more than we could possibly give doing these visits," shared Mohrman.
Health experts say animals can clinically reduce anxiety by providing comfort and motivation to exercise for humans.Volunteering offers the same benefits, making AUMC's PAWS Ministry a win/win for all involved.

For more on how to volunteer, please visit AUMC at their website and click on Congregational Care: AUMC: Congregational Care

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