Catawba County Employee Spotlight

Emily Killian

Emily Killian

Public Health
Hobby: Pet Therapy 

Tell us about Pet Therapy. 
I have registered therapy dogs and go out to area nursing homes, the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to visit with patients and the public to hopefully make their days a little brighter, and ease anxiety and pain. 

When did you get started? What inspired you to start?
I worked on a photography project in college and followed a therapy dog at a children’s hospital. I was amazed at how the dog’s presence could help seriously ill children feel better. This inspired me to begin the process of training my own dog to become a therapy dog. Since then, I have trained and certified three therapy dogs and have a fourth who is currently in the testing process. Therapy dogs have been shown to reduce blood pressure and pain levels, and release calming endorphins in humans, making them truly man’s best friend. 

Where is the most interesting place you’ve done pet therapy?
We recently started doing pet therapy visits as part of the Canine Crew at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, where we interact with travelers who are anxious about flying, those who miss their own pets at home, and those who love animals. As with any pet therapy visit, people are excited to see us, and we bring a little extra comfort and happiness to the flying experience. 
We are also part of the Hounds of East Fairhaven at the Carolina Renaissance Festival, where we have the opportunity to educate people on sighthounds, with my specialty being the borzoi breed (also known as Russian Wolfhound). 

Any fun or interesting stories you’d like to share? 
We were able to welcome home a large group of veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Desert Storm who were returning from the Queen City Honor Flight in October. We were one of many groups to honor these brave men and women and reveled in the excitement of the event. As the first veteran passed by, trailing behind ROTC students with banners and a motorcycle honor guard with the American flag, and a Scottish band played, we were overcome with emotion – it was a touching night that we won’t soon forget.