Funds raised for animal-assisted therapy program

Pet Pledge Day for HABIT, 2014
Human Animal Bond in Tennessee (HABIT) has received $1,000 from a community partnership between WUOT Public Radio and Dream Katcher Lodge.  Shown are Cindy Hassil (left), Karen Armsey (center), Dr. Mili Bass (right) and Joan Cohn, HABIT Board member (seated) at a WUOT Public Radio studio. Also shown in Cohn's lap is HABIT volunteer Macy. Photo by P. Snow, courtesy UTIA. Download image.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Human Animal Bond in Tennessee (HABIT) has received $1,000 from a community partnership between WUOT Public Radio and Dream Katcher Lodge. HABIT is an outreach program at the University of Tennessee College of Veterinary Medicine.

Dr. Mili Bass, owner of Dream Katcher Lodge in Farragut, Tennessee, contacted Cindy Hassil, WUOT Corporate and Community Relations Director, about opportunities to promote HABIT. Hassil suggested a Community Partnership Day between WUOT, HABIT and Dream Katcher Lodge. If WUOT received 350 pledges by phone, online or in person on the station’s Pet Pledge Day during its 2014 fall fund drive, Dream Katcher Lodge would donate $1,000 to HABIT. The station surpassed its goal, receiving more than 475 pledges from listeners in support of the partnership.

Bass, an alumna of the UT College of Veterinary Medicine, has supported HABIT since it began in 1986. Under the leadership of Dr. John New, HABIT’s co-founder, the program laid the groundwork for other animal-assisted therapy programs across the country.  “Besides HABIT, WUOT is my other passion,” Bass explains. “These are two organizations I feel strongly about that need community support.”

According to Hassil, the fund drive’s Community Partnership Day on Pet Pledge Day was an opportunity for listeners to make it a HABIT to donate to WUOT and help support another worthy non-profit at the same time. “We want to give back to the community that has helped keep us on the air for the past 65 years,” said Hassil. “Partnerships like this benefit everyone. Our generous listeners love WUOT, they love their pets and they believe in supporting causes they care about. All of their donations that day will stay with WUOT, but their pledges also benefited HABIT thanks to the generosity of Mili and Dream Katcher Lodge.”

HABIT program director, Karen Armsey, said the donation will be used to purchase tablets that will enable the program’s informational meetings to be more mobile, and evaluators will be able to use the tablets during their evaluations of potential animal volunteers.  Visit  for more information about the program.

One of 28 accredited veterinary colleges in the United States, the UT College of Veterinary Medicine educates students in the art and science of veterinary medicine and related biomedical sciences, promotes scientific research and enhances human and animal well-being.

In addition to the programs of the College of Veterinary Medicine, the UT Institute of Agriculture also provides instruction, research and public service through the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, the UT AgResearch system of 10 AgResearch and Education Centers and UT Extension offices in every county in the state.



Sandra Harbison, CVM media relations, 865-974-7377,