His doves help him help others

December 4, 2015 | Kathleen Ganster | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It was a hobby that turned into a career — and then into somewhat of a calling.

Ken Haselrig of Hampton had been interested in doves for a long time, so he started raising the birds as a pastime. Eventually, he decided to turn his interest into a full-time business.

Then, the former Pittsburgh Public Schools teacher began volunteering to take his doves to nursing homes and senior care homes to provide pet therapy for residents there.

And the residents love the birds, said Melissa Tomko, recreation service director at Longwood at Oakmont.

“They are beneficial for so many reasons. The birds are very calming and the social interaction is wonderful,” she said. Mr. Haselrig takes the birds to the residents so if someone is hesitant about group settings, the person can still take part in the pet therapy program.

“Ken also writes up a report on each resident each time he visits so we can see the progress and how they do,” Ms. Tomko said. “Sometimes he also brings music. The result on our residents is really powerful.”

He also volunteers with his birds at Harbour Senior Living of the South Hills in Green Tree, the Southwestern Veterans Center in Lincoln-Lemington, Woodhaven Care Center in Monroeville and for a couple of the Good Samaritan Hospice locations.

Mr. Haselrig, 50, doesn’t remember when he developed an interest in doves, but the more he learned about the birds, the more he wanted some of his own. His wife, Celine, fostered the interest.

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