Pets Together project helps ease isolation during pandemic

Feelings of isolation and loneliness existed before coronavirus.

Now the effort to stay physically healthy, through distance, takes an even greater mental toll. 

So bringing the outside world, in, matters more than ever, especially for seniors in assisted care facilities. 

In the early days of the pandemic, while working from home, Christie Purks of Athens saw a "pawfect" opportunity to help those in need of company. 

She and her dog, Cali, joined the Pets Together program.  It's part of a national nonprofit, the Animal Farm Foundation.

The group's advocacy now takes shape through a screen.

"The residents will ask you questions - a lot of times they'll ask how big she is - how much she weighs because she is definitely one of the smaller dogs that participates on the phonecalls," Purks explained.

The Maltipoo is nine years old and just seven pounds, but brings a whole lot of comfort to those who participate in the program.

"I think they definitely have a little bit more energy - more enthusiasm - after the 30 minutes.

For a lot of these individuals, due to the pandemic, they can't have in-house pet visits ... can't even visit with their own family members in person," she added. 

And with virtual visits, Christie and Cali's reach extends outside Georgia - to facilities in states across the nation.

"I think it's the innocence of the animals. They're always excited to be there, and make a difference just with their presence and personalities."

To learn more about the program, click here.