Dear Pet Partners Volunteers:
The work you do to help others in your community is deeply appreciated by the Board and staff at Delta Society. You are the heart of the Pet Partners program, and it is our honor to support you in your work. Your commitment to bringing joy, comfort and compassion to others in a safe manner is greatly appreciated, as we know it requires a high level of dedication. The smiles and calming presence you bring to those you meet is something so special that it can be hard for us to really convey the respect we have for your vital role in this program, and in your community.
As you learned in the Workshop or Home Study Course that you completed prior to being registered, infection control is a key element to a safe and effective animal-assisted activity/therapy program. While it is impossible to eliminate all risk of exposure to potential harmful pathogenic bacteria to those with whom Pet Partners interact, what can be done is to minimize risk by taking known preventable measures. A couple of ways to minimize the spread of bacteria which you already are practicing include bathing and grooming your animal partner within 24-hours of a visit, washing hands before and after each interaction, and placing a towel or sheet on a personís lap/bed before you place an animal on the personís lap/bed.
In May, per the recommendation of our Medical Advisory Group, we announced that we are expanding our infection control practices to include an additional preventable measure to minimize the inadvertent spread of pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. coli, which is especially of concern to those with compromised immune systems. This is the implementation of the Raw Protein Diet Policy.
Since the initial notice in our Spring issue of Interactions and via a subsequent email sent on May 19th, we have received a wide-range of feedback regarding this new policy which becomes effective June 30, 2010. We recognize this is a complex issue with varying view points as feeding raw proteins to animals can impact both animal and human health. Many healthcare providers and Pet Partners have contacted us in support of this decision, as well as Pet Partners who feel strongly about continuing to feed a raw protein diet to their pets.
While we hope to retain all our Pet Partners teams, we fully respect the decision of those who may choose to no longer participate in the program, if they determine it is in the best interest of their petís health to remain on a raw protein diet. We appreciate and applaud that their first concern is the care and health of their pets Ė this completely follows one of our primary tenets for Pet Partners, you are your petís advocate.
Before closing, I want to acknowledge that, in hindsight, we should have been far more effective in how we communicated this new policy including providing a better explanation of the rationale behind it. I apologize for any confusion or added concern to you that may have resulted. Please know we are committed to continually improving our efforts to broaden input on key issues from our Pet Partner volunteers as well as how we communicate decisions made. You are the key to the future.
Attached is a copy of the Raw Protein Diet Policy, with additional FAQs that have been enhanced based on feedback that we have received since the original FAQís were created. We trust this will provide you with more insight. As we recognize it takes people different time to process new information and forward questions, we will be updating our website every Friday with additional information, should any new questions arise. The direct link to the page on the website is www.deltasociety.org/rawdiet.
Once again, thank you so much for all that you do to help others. If you have any additional questions regarding this policy, please email email@example.com to ensure it will reach our Programs and Medical Advisory Group and assure we can provide you with a timely response.
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