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Grand Forks County Commission supports proclamation recognizing April 30 as National Therapy Animal Day

Mandy Iverson, a member of the North Dakota Army National Guard and a nurse for Grand Forks Public Schools, presented her proclamation to the commission while speaking about her experiences with therapy animals.

The Grand Forks County Office Building. Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.
The Grand Forks County Office Building. Photo by Nick Nelson for the Grand Forks Herald.
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GRAND FORKS — The Grand Forks County Commission voted Tuesday to support a proclamation recognizing April 30 as National Therapy Animal Day.

National Therapy Animal Day was created by Pet Partners to recognize therapy animals bringing “comfort and healing to those in need,” according to the organization’s website. The organization was created in 1977 and has more than 10,000 registered therapy animal teams, which make more than 3 million visits each year.

Mandy Iverson, a member of the North Dakota Army National Guard and a nurse for Grand Forks Public Schools, presented the proclamation to the commission while speaking about her experiences with therapy animals.

“I'm here today in my official capacity as Mrs. Minnesota International 2022 and my platform Paws for Mental Health, (which) focuses on promoting positive mental health through the human-animal bond one paw at a time,” Iverson said. “With our current state of global affairs both at home and abroad, the time for action, education and advocacy for positive mental health experiences is now.”

The Grand Forks Public School system has its own therapy dog program, and Iverson said she has experience working with it in a classroom setting.

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“I was just at Red River High School today. We had a therapy dog in the autism classroom where I went to visit,” Iverson said.

Iverson said recognizing April 30 as National Therapy Animal Day will be an opportunity to demonstrate community support of mental health and “the many benefits that therapy animals can provide to our residents.”

She said she has experienced the effects of animal-assisted intervention through therapy animals for her students, staff and for herself as a Grand Forks Public Schools nurse. She cited reported increases in positive feelings and academic performance, as well.

READ MORE ABOUT GRAND FORKS COUNTY COMMISSION
The bond term would be over the next 20 years, according to County Auditor Debbie Nelson. The project is expected to start in spring 2023. As for why the commission elected to move forward with bonding at this time, Tom Ford, director of administration for Grand Forks County, said interest rates were at the center of the decision.

Iverson credited her experience in the military as inspiring her to change career paths to work in an environment where therapy dogs are “incorporated as part of the culture in a routine nature.”

“I am honored and humbled to request that my local and state officials proclaim April 30 as National Therapy Animal Day, and I would enthusiastically participate in any opportunities to promote and support my community’s proclamation,” Iverson said.

In other news from Tuesday's meeting:

  • The commission was briefed on COVID-19 numbers in the Grand Forks region by Grand Forks Public Health director Debbie Swanson, who said the news was “largely good at this point in time.” Swanson said the vaccination rate for Grand Forks County has not improved much in the past couple of weeks and still sits at 59.1% for residents older than 5, but the rate of new cases remains fairly low. Grand Forks Public Health is now administering just over 1,000 tests per week. Swanson also noted low hospitalization rates; however, there is less information available for positive test results due to an increase in at-home testing.
Jacob Holley joined the Grand Forks Herald as its business reporter in June 2021.

Holley's beat at the Grand Forks Herald is broad and includes a variety of topics, including small business, national trends and more.

Readers can reach Holley at jholley@gfherald.com.Follow him on Twitter @JakeHolleyMedia.
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