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Saturday, 15 May 2010 12:30

Kennedy Dancers have two furry, therapeutic doormen serving as the welcoming committee

By The Jersey Journal

April 21, 2010, 3:15PM
Diane Dragone, executive director of the Kennedy Dancers in Jersey City, relaxes with 5-year-old Sylvio and Sylvester.Slyvester and Sylvio - the only therapy cats certified by Hudson Urban Search and Rescue - are the two furry doormen who live and work at the Kennedy Dancers studio in Jersey City.

Executive Director Diane Dragone got the idea to have specially trained cats at the studio from her time working with children with special needs, teens at juvenile detention centers and children with developmental disabilities.

"They come here and feel relaxed and they sit with (the cats) and ... I don't know ... there's a certain sense they can communicate with an animal better than they can communicate with a human," she said. "It just makes them feel better."

The cats were abandoned by their previous owner who moved away. Dragone took them in to find them a home, but ended up keeping them and having them certified.

"They were so special as brothers, I couldn't bear to put them in a shelter," Dragone said. "We got pretty attached to each other."

While the four-legged doormen do keep people who are anti-feline or allergic to cats away from the studio, most people absolutely love  the therapeutic pair.

"Dancers and the kids - they love (the cats)," Dragone said. "People are always picking them up and holding them and hugging them. The cats are very gentle."
Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 June 2010 22:59