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Chester County Press

The Story of This Service Dog Highlights the Need to End Puppy Mills

09/09/2020 08:06PM ● By Steven Hoffman
Lisa Bennett was fighting both a diagnosis of breast cancer and the need for a liver transplant. Nellie was a mutt abandoned on the side of the road. When united, both of their circumstances changed permanently for the better. 

On National Dog Day, both visited State Sen. Andy Dinniman, where Bennett shared their story of resilience and highlighted the need for an increased appreciation and understanding of the role animals play in our lives. “When they both came to me, I realized how special their story was,” said Dinniman, who has fought during his entire senate career for the expansion of animal protections. “Every day we learn more about the special bond between our pets and our emotional health. Lisa and Nellie’s story really shows how important these bonds are to so many. They’re truly life-saving.” 

Nellie was found abandoned on the side of the road in Georgia in a cage with many other puppies. Through a system of transportation from Georgia to Pennsylvania provided by volunteer drivers, all the puppies found safe homes in Pennsylvania. Bennett adopted Nellie, who has since begun training as a service dog – and in a wonderful way, Bennett and Nellie saved each other.  

For Dinniman, this story of resilience and animal therapy served as a perfect example of the ever-growing therapeutic bond between animal and human – one which needs further legislative support in terms of the utilization of animals in providing therapy for humans. “In this pandemic, our pets have played a very special, and sometimes life-saving, role for us,” Dinniman said. “We are on the cusp of understanding this tremendous bond between people and their animals – they are not just service animals, but routes to greater therapy. “They are not just our pets – they provide us therapeutic routes to greater happiness”

Dinniman detailed for Bennett information on research currently being conducted at University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School and other research facilities which aims to fully understand this human-animal bond, and the process through which they help people deal with anxiety, trauma, and many other mental and emotional battles.  

Bennett met with Dinniman to share her story, and also showcase the importance of supporting further animal-protective legislation. Nellie, who almost died due to inhumane puppy mill practices, has since won the K9 Good Citizen certificate and helped Bennett in her battles, too. 
Bennett explained to Dinniman what Nellie meant to her – she told him that this dog has been her friend and companion and the dog is now being trained to assist her in medical emergencies.  
“Lisa and Nellie’s story is another reason why we must continue to push legislature which permanently puts a stop to the inhumane treatment of animals in puppy mills, which are still very prevalent in Pennsylvania,” Dinniman said. “For Lisa, Nellie, all pets out there waiting to be saved, and all the human beings in need of this therapeutic companionship and strength especially during this pandemic, we must do this.”