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Derry Township no-kill shelter fundraiser to spotlight dogs' service for therapy

| Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
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Ed DeLancey of Healing Hearts Animal Therapy and Oscar will be featured at the Love Is in the Air lecture and reception at 6 p.m. Feb. 8 in the Latrobe Country Club. The fundraiser benefits Action for Animals Humane Society in Derry Township.

Love from animals can help ease human stress — a connection a Greensburg man realized two years ago.

Ed DeLancey began Healing Hearts Animal Therapy when he saw that care radiate from his American bulldog, Oscar.

“Something as simple as an animal can help you reach through the darkness and make you feel better,” DeLancey said.

He will be the speaker at this year's “Love Is In The Air” fundraiser to benefit Action for Animals, a Derry Township nonprofit no-kill shelter.

Event co-chairwoman Laura Guskiewicz said this will be the first time that dogs' service for therapy is featured in the eight years the organization has been holding the fundraiser, also led by co-chairwoman Terry Zorch.

“I think a lot of people don't realize the capabilities that animals have in providing service to people who need them,” she said. “Even petting a dog can bring people comfort.”

Anyone who has ever owned a dog understands the therapeutic benefits of pets, Guskiewicz said.

“The best part of my day is when I come home from work and (my dog's) there waiting for me at the basement door, wagging her tail,” she said. “They just provide that unconditional love.”

DeLancey will give a demonstration with Oscar included in his lecture.

Healing Hearts Animal Therapy has about 10 volunteers — each with their own trained dogs — who visit hospitals, nursing homes and schools.

The dogs are able to work with people who have physical as well as mental health conditions because of their heightened sensory perception, DeLancey said.

“The dogs, they're not there to judge, to make you feel inferior,” he said. “They just have that way of reaching through. ... It's a feeling I'm glad to give to other people,” DeLancey said.

He hopes to grow the therapy business and familiarize more people with it and service dogs in general.

Appearing with Oscar at local events and places like Fort Ligonier Days and The Arc of Westmoreland, DeLancey also trains service dogs.

“As long as I can help everybody that I can, I think it's all going to work out,” he said.

Stacey Federoff is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6660 or sfederoff@tribweb.com.

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