Animals visit assisted living centers

Posted at 11:02 PM, May 03, 2020

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Senior living centers are places that have been hit hard by COVID-19. To avoid exposure, lots of activities or therapy events were canceled.

One of those events was with Scatter Joy Acres and their animals. That was until the animals got a chance to still come visit in a way to keep everyone safe.

“We do monthly visits we have 60 assisted living homes that we go and visit on a monthly rotation,” said Joy Bartling of Scatter Joy Acres.

Thanks to the virus the animal visits changed as the older residents isolate in their rooms, taking away that form of therapy…or so they thought.

“Thinking outside the box to try and see how can continue to bring animals to these individuals, because we know animals are therapy for these people,” said Bartling

So she had the idea, if they can’t bring the animals inside, the outside will do.

“(We were) able to walk around and look in the windows and let the residents see the animals that we have at the ranch,” said Bartling.

“It’s been difficult, they’re missing their families, they’re missing being outdoors. It’s a difficult time for everybody so we’re doing what we can to nourish them and to keep them happy,” said Diane Wheeler of Arbor Care in Valley.

“Some of them grew up on farms and so those were familiar animals to them, and those are usually happy memories to them that they can go back and remember,” said Bartling.

During these tough times, every little bit of kindness helps, whether it’s from two legs, or four.

“Some of these people fall back into a depression because they don’t have that interaction with people and it’s hard so the animals continue to be that go between to be able to keep them communicating between themselves,” said Bartling.

For more information on Scatter Joy Acres, which is open during the pandemic, visit