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Bayside center’s first Pet Therapy Day helps support victims of anti-Asian hate crimes

Oct. 12, 2023 By Iryna Shkurhan

The Korean Community Services Center held its first Pet Therapy Day in Bayside last weekend and is gearing up for another day of pet bonding next month. 

Dozens of community members gathered at the center on Saturday Oct. 7 to spend some time with dogs and cats.Photo courtesy of KCS

It was organized with the idea of supporting victims of anti-Asian hate crimes with animal assisted therapy in a safe space. Pet therapy has been found to reduce PTSD symptoms, as well as lowering levels of depression and anxiety. 

KCS seeks to provide safe spaces in the community alongside resources to enhance health, cultural connectivity, safety and socialization. The pet therapy initiative is one of their attempts to increase direct services to members of the community.

Several friendly cats and dogs were ready for bonding.Photo courtesy of KCS

“Our very first Pet Therapy event was super successful and all our community members really loved the bonding time with the animals,” said Sara Hwang, a program manager at KCS who organized the event. “It was a great opportunity for all of us to connect and have a comfortable time with these animals.”

Pet therapy has been found to evoke positive emotions and reduce feelings of isolation.Photo courtesy of KCS

Hwang was inspired by animal therapy events that her college would organize when finals week would come around to reduce academic stress. She hoped that the KCS event would be able to alleviate some of the negative emotions victims are experiencing in their healing journey.

The event was held in partnership with Best Friend Animal Society, who brought over several of their pets for the event. Jenny and Moongchy, a New Jersey based pet accessory store also provided attendees with gift bags. 

The color yellow was chosen as the theme for this event for its association with happiness, positivity, energy and optimism. 

The next therapy session will be held on Nov. 11 in partnership with Korean K9 Rescue, a volunteer dog-rescue organization based in Queens. They focus on rescuing mistreated dogs from South Korea and placing them in homes across the United States. 

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