Animal Angels Foundation teams consist of all kinds of animal enthusiasts who are interested in Animal Assisted Therapy and who believe in spreading the joy and love of animals to those in need.
Our teams consist of pet owners who volunteer with their pets, mental /medical health professionals trained as Animal assisted therapists and other volunteers from various fields like IT, business, house wives, media personalities etc.
Our therapy animals are pets owned by loving families. Not just dogs but cats, birds and fish are also a part of our team. These animals are screened for their health, temperament and personality , after which they get trained along with their owners for therapy visits. These therapy animals then assist mental/medical health professionals as co-therapists or visit special schools and institutes with their owners.
Animal Angels Foundation function in Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore and is in process to expand to different cities in India.
Sneha Shinde – Lonkar
Aditi Bodas – Senior Animal Therapist
Aditi Bodas is our most experienced resource person on the team. She has a masters in Counseling Psychology, and is trained under Minal Kavishwar for 8 years as an Animal Therapist. She is also pursuing training in Play therapy and REBT. At Animal Angels, she manages the programs and volunteer teams in Mumbai and Pune. She and her Therapy dog Ella make a great team.
Zahra Poonawala is the latest to join the team of therapist. She is a Clinical Psychologist who has mostly worked with adults with psychiatric disorders. She has interned with Green Chimney, a renowned organization in US working in the field of AAT and is currently working with Animal Angels on our AAA project. Passionate about animals and creating awareness about mental health, Zahra holds a vision of incorporating horses in her practice. Zahra is currently working in Dubai as an Animal Assisted Therapist.
Manali Ranadive is a Clinical Psychologist and working with Animal Angels Foundation as an Animal Therapist and volunteer since the past eight years. She is a trained Forensic Psychologist and has worked in the field of mentoring and counseling children in conflict inflicted areas. She works with Animal Angels along with her co-therapist, Sunshine, a golden retriever. Together, they have worked with children with autism and developmental disabilities and on individual counseling cases. She has a natural connection with animals and excellent with children.
Tejashree Mujumdar is a Clinical Psychologist associated with Animal Angels since the past four years. She specializes in working with children with Autism and other developmental disabilities. She is trained in the ABA technique, which she incorporates in working with children, along with animal therapy as a mode of treatment. She is also associated with Sahyadri Hospital, Child Guidance Center, Pune as an Autism expert.
Dr. Shweta Sohoni is a practicing physiotherapist and incorporates therapy animals while working with people with various physical disabilities. She has been associated with Animal Angels since the past eight years and has implemented AAT in various aspects of her field.
Amit Kelkar is a Speech and Language Pathologist and is currently perusing his PhD in USA. He has been associated with Animal Angels since its conception. He has trained his buddy Donut, who is a Golden Retriever to be a Therapy Dog. He is also working at an Alzheimer care center where he and his Therapy dog Donut work with the patients.
Gayatri Ayyer – Senior Animal Therapist
Gayatri Ayyer is a Counseling Psychologist with training in Play Therapy from University of Missouri, USA. She is has completed her training in Animal Assisted Therapy under Minal Kavishwar and completed the AAT in Counseling course by Dr. Cynthia Chandler, University of North Texas. She is also a passionate teacher and school counselor, working with Sulochana Devi Singhania School, Thane. She lives with her two adopted retrievers, a Labrador – Myshka, who is trained therapy dog and Golden retriever – Nino, who is still under training.
Jai Bapat – Senior Animal Therapist
Jai Bapat is a Counseling Psychologist, trained in REBT and CBT. She is an experienced counselor and conducts workshops and trainings on REBT. She has completed her training in Animal Assisted Therapy under Minal Kavishwar and has been working with Animal Angels since 2015. She has worked on AAt projects in special schools, and on individual sessions for AAT in counseling.
Malavika Lobo – AAT Intern
Niharika Kolte – Advisor
- The senior most therapy dog of the Animal Angels team
- In-house therapy dog at Jidda School for Mentally retarded children, Thane, since the past three and half years.
- Worked as a therapy dog to provide TLC to families of the victims of 7/11 train blast victims.
- Winner of Delta Society’s Beyond Limit Award 2007.
Kutty, a golden Labrador, the first therapy dog of India, was a pet of the Bhosle family. Kutty was trained by Minal especially to be a therapy dog since she was four months old. Kutty stayed with the principal and would come to the school every day with the Principle and work with the children throughout the school hours. Kutty had an amazing capacity to understand these children. She knew her work and her responsibility very well. She was full of love and compassion for these children. She gave them the much needed happiness and brings smiles on their faces.
She was there when they need a warm hug or just want someone to be there with them. She played with children in wheelchairs, understood the children who could not speak, children with calipers and crutched would hold her leash and walk around the school.
Therapy dog Kutty and Minal Kavishwar, registered as first Pet Partners from India with Delta Society, USA were awarded the Beyond Limit Award by Delta Society for best practicing professional team. (petpartners.org)
We lost Kutty in 2013 due to health complications. She was 10 years old and cared for dearly by the Bhosle family till the end. She has brought happiness and has changed the lives of many children. May God bless her soul
• In-house therapy dog for a nine year old autistic boy for 5 months.
• Companion dog for a BP patient for one year.
• Volunteer dog for 7/11 blast rehabilitation
• Visiting therapy dog at Sri Ma Snehadeep, a school for special children in Thane.
Goldie is a beautiful Golden Retriever female, one of our senior most therapy dog staying with the Srivastava family. Goldie started her career as an in-house therapy dog for an autistic child. She was instrumental in bringing about a major change in the expression levels and vocabulary of the autistic child. A child who would keep staring out of the window and not interact with anyone started responding to the tail wags of “Spongy” (as they had named her.)
Later she worked as a companion dog for a busy business woman who was also suffering from high blood pressure. She helped her in de-stressing her life and bringing back the much needed healthy routine. “She is a wonderful companion and has helped me rediscover the lighter side of my life” says Mrs. Chunekar.
Goldie is now the heart of the Srivastava family. A loving pet to the 2 children in the house she is under the able care of Mrs. Srivastava who says that Goldie is just like her third child. Goldie now volunteers as a visiting therapy dog for children with special needs.
- Individual session with children with various developmental disabilities
- Visiting therapy dog at Academy of Learning and Development
Pepe is a second generation therapy dog from the Animal Angels squad. She is from the litter of two of our most experienced therapy dogs Scott and Kiara. Pepe has inherited her calm temperament from her father Scott and her ability to initiate interaction from her mother Kiara. She is trained to be a therapy dog by Aakash and Minal since she is 3 month old. Pepe is now a part of the Lonkar family and closely works with Aakash Lonkar in a variety of settings.
Pepe loves to interact with children and has proved to be an excellent therapy dog in group sessions. Pepe loves to play with soft toys and like to watch birds from the balcony in her free time.
• Therapy dog at Mookdhwani school for hearing and speech impaired
• Visiting therapy dog for patients with Cerebral Palsy
Aekon, is chocolate Labrador who works as a co-therapist with Dr. Shweta Sohini. He is very playful, attentive friendly. He’s a member of Shah family from Vile Parle, Mumbai.
Aekon loves the ball, he loves to fetch no matter how many time the kids make him run. He is the reason children at Mookdhwani school for hearing and speech impaired children want to communicate and talk.
Aekon assists our volunteer Dr. Shweta Sohini who is a physiotherapist working with children with hearing and speech impairment at Mookdhwani school in Vile Parle, Mumbai.
Heidi / Tootsi
Therapy dogs Hiedi is a beautiful Goldern Retriever and Therapy dog Tootsi is a loving and friendly Cocker Spaniel. Both of them are a part of the Kalawar family in Thane and both of them are volunteers with Animal Angels.
Therapy dog Heidi was a part of our team which conducted a visiting program for the Mumbai Railway Police after the 26/11 terror attacks. Her soft golden fur helped most of them to overcome the sadness of losing their colleges in the attack.
- Visiting Therapy dog
Mr. Vishal Thakkar and his one year old ST. Bernard Onit form the newest owner-therapy dog team of Animal Angels. Onit is a very adorable and huggable young dog, who has an excellent temperament. He is trained by volunteers Aakash and Manasi to work with Animal Angels in various settings.
Recently he along with Therapy dog Glodie assisted therapists and volunteers for an awareness program on AAT for post trauma stress.
Age: 11 months
• Assists on demonstrations of effect of animals on emotional wellbeing.
• Animal Assisted Activities for Preschool Group at Jack -n-Jill nursery.
The young member of the Animal Angels Junior Squad, Shadow has proven himself to be a very promising therapy dog candidate.
At the age of 2 months he has done a wonderful job a the Animal Assisted Activity at the Jack-n-Jill nursery where the program ‘Introduction to Animals’ was conducted for the pre school children.
A naught member of the Joshi family, Shadow came with a mission to make everyone around him laugh and smile.
We lost our beloved Shadow on 23rd October 2007. This is an irreparable loss for all of us. Through out his life he fulfilled his mission of making everyone around him SMILE.
May his soul rest in peace.
- Visiting therapy dog for Sapling special school, Mumbai
Coco is a bundle of happiness and the lifeline for Atul and Meghana Loke. Trained as a pup to be a therapy dog by Aakash Lonkar, Coco is proved to be more than just a house pet. He is extremely attached to Meghana Loke and few years back when she developed a severe back pain which made her take the bed for months, Coco was the one who figured out a way to warn her of the onset of the pain attacks. He was the sole reason for Meghana to push through the pain and walk him at least once a day, which helped her recover faster. He gave her the strength and confidence to hold her first exhibition in 10 years at the Kala Ghoda festival.
Coco has also been a visiting therapy dog at various programs like the ‘Tails of Joy’ program at Crossword book stores. He was also the visiting therapy dog for the pilot program at David Sassoon Juvenile Delinquent center. In just 10 sessions the children got so attached to Coco that they were willing to change their behavior just to be able to meet Coco.
- Reading buddy for Animal assisted reading sessions
Oscar is a Golden Retriever who loves books. He is our ‘reading buddy’ for the Tails of Joy program. He and his handler Tanushree Banerjee make a wonderful team for the reading programs.
Oscar has volunteered for the reading programs at Crossword book stores and is favorite among children.
- In house therapy dog for the autistic children at Prasanna Autism Center
Sophie is Animal Angels’s first therapy dog in Pune. Sophie was trained to be a therapy dog for the autistic children and currently works at the Prasanna Autism Center. A loving pet of the Godbole family Sophie is now an integral part of the children at Prasanna Autism Center.
It was the initiative of Mrs. Padmaja Godbole, Founder of Prasanna Autism Center, to have an in-house Therapy Animal in the school for the children. Sophie is sensitive and responsive to the emotional needs of the autistic children. Many children who were not at all communicative or interactive have developed a close bond with Sophie. They may not be able to speak or communicate with others but when they come to the school they will call out for ‘Chopie’.
Sophie gave birth to 9 health puppies on 25th December 2007. One of her pup, Naughty was trained as an in house therapy dog for Manavya AIDS orphanage.
- Visiting Therapy dog at Bal Kalyan Sanstha and Anugraha rehabilitation centre.
Ella is a female Labrador and a constant companion to Aditi Bodas. 3 years back when Aditi had an episode of depression, Ella was given to her to be her companion/therapy dog. Ella helped her find a reason to smile with her crazy tail wags and bouncy jumps. “If Ella could be happy all the time, why can’t I try?” This was the thought that helped Aditi come out of negativity. Ella’s favorite activity is to play ball, collect empty bottles and chew on dry coconuts.
Aditi and Ella, both are now volunteers with Animal Angels. Aditi is perusing her graduation in Psychology and has done a course on Animal Assisted Therapy with Animal Angels. Ella works as a visiting therapy dog at Bal Kalyan Sanstha, with children with visual impairment and mental retardation. Her second generation is also helping people heal. One of her pup Shadow worked as a visiting therapy dog for Anugraha rehabilitation and her other pup Eliza was given as a in house companion dog at Athashree residential home for the senior citizen.
- Visiting Therapy dog at Anugraha Rehabilitation Center
Shadow Junior is the second generation of therapy dogs. He is one of the pup of Therapy dog Ella, born in March 2008. Shadow is now a family member of the Nanivdekar family. He is a very promising young dog, who has inherited the calm temperament of his mother Ella.
Shadow visits Anugraha Rehabilitation Center, which is a special-need section of Ankur Vidya Mandir in Pune. Shadow has continued the therapy program where earlier his mother Ella used to work. The children instantly took on to this new vibrant pup who has been instrumental in bringing about positive changes in them.
We lost Shadow a few years back due to health complications. May his soul rest in peaceMimi
- Therapy dog at Orchid School, Resource room.
Mimi is a gorgeous Golden Retriever and a member of the Bhattacharya family in Pune. She is a very gentle, compassionate and loving dog. She is very attached to Suhani, daughter of Mr and Mrs Bhattacharya. Her compassionate eyes are the most striking feature when you meet her.
Mimi is a visiting therapy dog for Orchid School in Pune. Mimi, along with Mr and Mrs Bhattacharya visit the Orchid school once a week where Mimi works with children with different disabilities.
Every week the children look forward for a session with Mimi and have made tremendous improvement since Mimi has come into their lives. For a child with speech problems, Mimi was the one who did not laugh at his speech deficits and encouraged him to improve those difficulties. For an autistic girl, Mimi became her tutor and sat patiently near the black board as the girl learned to write. Such was the effect of Mimi on the lives of the children.Rex
• Visiting therapy dog at Sindhu Vidyalay, special school and Bal Kalyan Sanstha
• Therapy dog at Orchid school, resource room
Rex is old handsome Golden Retriever and a member of the Iyengar family in Pune. He is very obedient but a naughty dog. He loves to play football with Mr. Iyengar and the kids and is extremely fond of cakes. His golden coat is his most beautiful and striking feature.
Rex is a visiting therapy dog for schools like Sindhu Vidyala and Bal Kalyan Sanstha. Rex and Animal Angels Volunteer Jhumki Iyengar bring great joy and loads of smiles to the disabled children at these schools. Rex worked as a co-therapist with psychologist Minal and Tejashree at Orchid school resource room where he worked with children with autism, speech problems and other disabilities. His owner, Jhumki Iyengar says “We are very happy that Rex is doing this work. He has made us proud parents”Crunk
- Reading Buddy for Animal Assisted Reading sessions
Crunk is a big, brown Labrador owned by the Chaterjee family. He is a very handsome and obedient dog. Despite his big appearance he is extremely gentle and loving with children.
Krunk is a Reading Buddy who listens to stories read out to him by kids. He assists the volunteers of Animal Angels to conduct Animal Assisted Reading sessions in British Library and Jungle book library in Pune.
Krunk and Kiara (a lovely female Golden Retriever) both dogs belonging Mrs. Rakhi Chaterjee volunteer with Animal Angels and help us spread smiles.Kiara
- Visiting therapy dog
Kiara is the youngest member of the Chaterjee family. She and her pal Krunk are both volunteers as therapy dogs with Animal Angels. She is extremely mischievous but affectionate little pup.
Kiara is a beautiful retriever with an in born quality of sensing and fulfilling the emotional need in a person. She sits near you in such a way that you are bound to hug her or put your arm around her. Kiara is a dog with special qualities needed to work with hospitalized patients and Cancer Patients. She was the first dog to be allowed in a hospital for Cancer Patients. She demonstrated the benefit of AAT for Cancer Patients at the Ruby Hall Cancer Center Pune.
She was also the center of attraction at a program conducted by Cancer Patients Aid Association for women Cancer Patients on the occasion of International Women’s Day.
Three of Kiara’s pups with Scott are now working as therapy dogs. Pepe, Houdini and Thele are all working in different areas of Animal Therapy.Scotty
- Works as a co-therapist with Minal Kavishwar for individual sessions
- Visiting therapy dog at Orchid school
- Therapy dog for KEM’s AAT in hospital program
- Visiting therapy dog at SAA
Scotty is an adorable male Golden Retriever who volunteers with his owner Mrs. Sonali Ogale. Scotty is one of our senior most and very experienced therapy dogs from Pune. Scotty is experienced in working with children with developmental disabilities and hospital set up.
His vivacious personality has helped autistic children to come out of their inner world. He is extremely gentle and patient with kids. His presence serves as a motivation for special children to work towards personal and academic goals. He loves to sit near the blackboard and assist children to learn along with his co-therapist Minal Kavishwar and Tejashree Mujumdar.
Scotty is the first Therapy dog in India to be allowed to work in a hospital set up along with other doctors and professionals. Scotty was the therapy dog who worked with Minal Kavishwar and team on India’s first AAT program in a hospital set up at KEM Hospital Pune. Scotty closely worked with the psychologists, play therapist and physiotherapist and psychiatrist at the KEM Hospital.
Scotty has also worked with patients recovering from psychiatric disorders at Schizophrenia Awareness Association. His calm and friendly presence helped many of patients to open up and feel confidant.Misty
- Reading Buddy for Animal Assisted Reading sessions
Misty is a female Labrador retriever and a member of the Hulikavi family. She volunteers for Animal Angels with her owner Ira Hulikavi. Together they have a great rapport and work as a team on our Animal Assisted Reading sessions. She has been a Reading Buddy at different schools in Pune under our Times of India – NIE reading programs. She has also been a part of various educational and interactive programs that we conduct for school children.
Misty has a great temperament and is a very promising therapy dog. You can’t pass her without getting a smile on your face.Geanie
• Reading Buddy for Animal Assisted Reading sessions
• Visiting therapy dog.
Genie is cute little female pug who is the darling of Gandhi family. She volunteers along with her owner Minal Gandhi as a visiting therapy dog. Her small size and friendly temperament also makes her an ideal reading buddy for young kids. Her frisky and bubbly personality has helped a child with Down’s syndrome who was not able to walk, to take is very first steps. She has also been a reading buddy at our Tails of Joy sessions at British Library and Kalmadi school.
- Visiting therapy dog at Bal Kalyan Sanstha
Balboa is a handsome and boisterous Labrador belonging to the Joshi family. He was named by Shonita Joshi after famous film character Rocky Balboa because of his high spirited attitude. Balboa is very naughty and as a pup has destroyed many valuable things including Shonita’s mobile.
But the moment Shonita’s bike (Balboa rides the bike with Shonita) turns inside the gates of Bal Kalyan Sanstha, all his energy is channelized towards playing with the children disabilities. He loves to play football and is very skillful when it comes to playing with special children. He knows a way to communicate with them and children respond to him. Volunteer Shonita and Balboa are surely a wonderful therapy team.Gazzo
Gazzo is a male Cocker Spaniel and the youngest member of the Shah family. He volunteers as a Reading buddy for our Animal Assisted Reading sessions with his owner, Anisha Shah. He loves to be around kids and his is a truly entertaining character.Houdini and Thele
Houdini and Thele are from the litter of Kiara and Scott. Houdini, true to her name is a mischievous little girl, but equally soft hearted and loving. She has her mother’s temperament and has time and again proved to be an excellent therapy dog. She works with Minal Kavishwar on individual cases and also visits the children at Bal Kalyan Sanstha.
Thele is a handsome young retriever, just like his father, Scott. He has the sweetest temperament and visits along with his sister Houdini at Bal Kalyan Sanstha.
Both of them stay with their mom Kiara and Uncle Krunk with the Chatterjee Family.Pepsi
- Reading buddy for Tails of Joy sessions
- Visiting therapy dog at Anugraha rehabilitation centre.
Pepsi and Kiki are two adorable female Labrador retrievers belonging to Mrs. Smita Deshpande. Mrs. Deshpande is truly dedicated to the cause of spreading the healing power of her pets and has raised both of them specifically to become therapy dogs.
They both are very loving but have two distinct personalities. Kiki is vibrant and playful, ideal for therapy sessions with people who need stimulation. Whereas Pepsi is calm and docile, she loves to settle down by you where you can keep on petting her. She is an ideal reading buddy and a companion dog for children with special needs.
Kiki has been a visiting dog at Anugraha rehabilitation centre and Pepsi volunteers as a reading buddy for school sessions.Tyson
- Visiting Therapy dog for Manavya Foundation
Tyson is a 5 year old male Boxer owned by the Date family. Mrs. Sushma Date, a pediatrician, volunteers for Animal Angels along with Tyson.
Tyson is a very handsome dog, and a mad but loving mutt as Mrs. Date says. He is extremely gentle and loving with children. He loves to go on a trek with his family, run about on the lush green fields and swim in the lake.Naughty
- In house therapy dog at Manavya Foundation
Naughty is a Labrador mix pup. He is one of the pup of Therapy dog Sophie. Naughty was chosen to be an in house therapy dog for Manavya orphanage for HIV +ve children. True to his name, Naughty had enough enthusiasm to play and run around with 50 odd children at Manavya. Naughty proved to be a constant companion for the 50 children at Manavya who stay away from the city and most of them have never seen their family.
Naughty now stays with Ms. Reena Jinwala and her daughters. As a pup Reena had taken care of Naughty and has now adopted him. Though he had to be shifted from Manavya to the Jinwala family, he has become a part of the lives of the children at Manavya and they still miss him.