Therapy Kangaroo Brings Hope at Utah Veterans Home

PHOTO: A veteran feeding a bottle to Charlie, the therapy kangaroo, at the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home.Courtesy of Richard Woodruff
A veteran feeding a bottle to Charlie, the therapy kangaroo, at the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home.

A therapy kangaroo is bringing hope to retired servicemen while hopping around a home for veterans in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Charlie the kangaroo has been working at the William E. Christoffersen Salt Lake Veterans Home since March 2015, Noralyn Kahn, an administrator at the home, told ABC News.

"His job is just to love them," Kahn, who also owns Charlie, said. "They can hold him and give him a bottle, or he will go and jump around and make everybody smile."

PHOTO: Charlie, the kangaroo, works as a therapy animal with veterans in Salt Lake City. Courtesy of Richard Woodruff
Charlie, the kangaroo, works as a therapy animal with veterans in Salt Lake City.

"It's been proven that therapy animals lower blood pressure, and they lessen the need for a lot of anti-depressants because they just uplift everybody. For those residents who sometimes seem like they are not there with us, we can put an animal in their arms and it is just the most amazing thing," Kahn said, "They just love Charlie."

Charlie will be recognized for his achievements next month when he is honored as the American Red Cross' "Animal Hero of the Year," Rich Woodruff, communications director for the Utah region of the American Red Cross, told ABC News.

"The Red Cross has an annual event called Everyday Heroes, and we have all kinds of categories that people are nominated for, and a few years ago we started a category called Animal Heroes," Woodruff said. In the past they have honored canines, but this year Charlie the kangaroo was nominated.

PHOTO: Charlie, the therapy kangaroo featured on local ABC Channel 4 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Courtesy of Richard Woodruff
Charlie, the therapy kangaroo featured on local ABC Channel 4 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Kahn explained that one of Charlie's greatest contributions to the home is bringing families together. The presence of a kangaroo attracts previously wary or timid visitors.

"Oftentimes the grandkids won't come in this building because of the way Grandpa acts, or because he has an oxygen machine or there are people they don't know," Kahn said, "but they come and see Charlie and they are always so happy."

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