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Amid visitor restrictions, animals cheer up residents at nursing facilities

Residents of an area skilled care facility got some special visitors Tuesday.

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. (WTHR) — They were on the outside looking in.

That’s all several dogs and a kitten could do Tuesday as they stood outside several area nursing facilities.

“We met as a staff and decided to do something to brighten the spirits of those who are in isolation and can’t see family,” said Anne Sutton with the Humane Society of Johnson County.

With just hours left before the governor’s "stay-at-home" order took effect, humane society employees brought their own pets to visit residents at four different nursing homes.

Conscious of social distancing rules because of coronavirus, visits took place at a distance, usually with a windows between them.

“We thought 'well, our business is four-legged friends, and they spread joy, and so many wonderful things happen when you’re around animals,'” Sutton said.

The joy comes at a time when some are feeling isolated amid visitor restrictions at nursing facilities — efforts put into place to prevent the spread of virus.

“I’ve been in health care a really long time and haven’t seen anything like this, but just the all-hands-on-deck with just the staff and the community, everyone pulling together has been awesome,” said Jenna Berry, the executive director of Beech Grove Meadows.

“Had some tears, and we got sing 'Happy Birthday' to a resident,” Sutton said.

“This is amazing. It will absolutely brighten their day for sure,” Berry said.

The Humane Society of Johnson County has been getting lots of calls from people who want to foster or adopt, but they can’t take applications with their current minimal staffing. They said they’ll be ready to go, once the "stay-at-home" order is lifted and pets are available for adoption.

“We were really blessed with having quite a few adoptions last week, so we’re really luck in that way,” said Sutton.

These residents also felt lucky to have unexpected four-legged guests show up, even at a distance. The happiness they brought went straight to the heart.