Texas Chapter Director Joy Southard learned about Healing Species after leaving her position as Development Director for CASA, Child Advocates of Montgomery County. Intrigued by the results of the program, Southard contacted the founder Cheri Brown Thompson to learn how to bring Healing Species to Texas. As an advocate for children for 4 years, Southard saw the results of abuse and neglect firsthand. Children removed from their homes must return to school; return to a life that asks them to move on. Many of her cases were moved from school to school, foster home to foster home. Some were placed in Treatment Centers, some ended up in Correctional Facilities. All had to endure the physical and psychological effects of abuse--even after their court order removals.
The correlation between the histories of these children and the history of the rescue dog was undeniable. Her own dog, Elliott was a victim of abuse and neglect. Elliott was a pup when Southard found him sitting on a piece of cardboard edged to the side of a busy highway. He had suffered an earlier injury that left his hip joint crushed forcing him to lose the use of that leg. The leg atrophied from lack of use. Ten years later, Elliott's little leg is gaining muscle mass from a series of surgeries, he is still the calm and loving dog he was when rescued. A tribute to the Healing Species saying that "even the most vulnerable and most wounded among us is important and does have something to give."
The neglected animal, either due to his limp or emaciation tugs at the heart of each person who has ever loved a pet. The ability to recognize and respond to the plight of another, serves as the benchmark for the work of Healing Species. What better way to reach "shut-down" children than through the wagging tail and unconditional love of dogs nobody else wanted?