Shoes for Paws

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Connie Couch, membership chair of Chi Sigma Iodta, collected gently used shoes for Colorado's Barking Center for Animal Assisted Therapy (The Mirror/Wilhelmina Jackson)

A small cardboard box with a gold sign filled with shoes sits next to a table with packets notepads, packets and stress balls in the shape of a paw.

Connie Couch hosted “Shoes for Paws” on Thursday, a community service project connected to Funds2Orgs. The goal of the fundraiser was to collect gently worn shoes from the community and give them to Funds2Orgs in exchange for money; the money will then go to the expansion of the Barking Center for Animal Assisted Therapy.

Couch is a University of Northern Colorado doctoral student working on getting her Ph.D in counselor education and supervision. Couch is also the membership chair of Chi Sigma Iodta, an international honor society for counseling students. CSI values community service, and encourages members to contribute to the community in anyway possible.

According to Couch, she was inspired to ignite “Shoes for Paws” when she visited Barking CAAT. Couch recounted how she was supervising another student and was fascinated by the counseling program and how they used animals alongside their counseling.

The Barking CAAT Ranch is located in Lakewood and is currently raising money to build a new facility. According to Couch, the city of Lakewood requested that they find a more suitable place to satisfy their growing program. The organization needs over $4 million dollars in order to build a whole new location. Barking CAAT Ranch offers counseling for all ages and is the first counseling center to offer counseling with the use of animals. The animals are there to add extra comfort for patients, and the pets can create a dynamic relationship and help a patient find comfort.

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“It kind of enhances therapy,” Couch said.

By gathering gently used shoes and giving them to families in need, these families can use these shoes for resale and make money for themselves. Once a fundraising campaign gathers enough shoes, Funds2Orgs gives out a check to the organization.

Couch plans on continuing her community service project “Shoes for Paws” in the spring semester, but the exact date is unknown.

“I welcome anybody who is interested in animal assisted therapy or anyone else who is interested in helping out with the project,” Couch said.

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