The Korean Community Services (KCS) in Bayside, New York, is organizing Pet Therapy Days to support victims of anti-Asian hate crimes and promote healing.
About the event: The first event on Oct. 7 will feature five puppies and three kittens from the New York City-based animal rescue service Best Friends Animal Society. The Pet Therapy Day, which aims to create a safe space for both anti-Asian hate crime victims and homeless animals, will be held at KCS Community Center on 32nd Avenue in Bayside from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET. The second pet therapy session will be on Nov. 11 and will be hosted in collaboration with Korean K9 Rescue, a volunteer dog-rescue organization based in Queens.
KCS is partnering with a New Jersey-based pet store called Jenny and Moongchy, which imports pet accessories from South Korea. Attendees of the event will have the opportunity to receive gift bags filled with items from the pet store.
Anti-Asian hate crime survey: KCS operates a state-licensed mental health clinic where clinicians offer culturally sensitive mental health services in both English and Korean. They conducted an anti-Asian hate crime survey, revealing that a majority of respondents expressed concerns about becoming victims of hate crimes. The pet therapy initiative is one of their efforts to expand direct services to the community in order to address this issue.
Benefits of animal-assisted therapy: Although the initiative is to provide emotional support and reduce feelings of isolation, it is reportedly open to anyone interested in connecting with pets. The program manager, Sara Hwang, drew inspiration from college pet therapy events and recognizes the potential benefits of animal-assisted therapy, including reducing PTSD symptoms, anxiety and depression.
“Our purpose is to create this safe space for them to really enjoy themselves and to have fun,” Hwang told QNS. “Through these programs and services that we provide, if they can walk away saying ‘I feel better. I feel safe among my community and I am glad that I’m able to seek help,’ then I think we can make a little bit of a difference one by one.”