Therapy dog spreads holiday cheer, brings gifts to Children's Shelter

Bellin's Toy Drive collected nearly 200 presents

SAN ANTONIO – Many of the staff members at the Children’s Shelter on Wednesday wanted to get selfies with Bellin, a therapy dog that’s made many visits there over the past four years.

Each picture showed them getting Bellin kisses, which are his specialty.

The Siberian Husky was rescued by Dr. Kassia Kubena-Fontenot and her husband, Steven, after Animal Care Services contacted Texas Husky Rescue. Photos at the time showed that the dog had been starved and had suffered severe physical abuse, but the couple soon realized Bellin had a gift.

“He feels the emotion. He empathizes so well,” Kubena-Fontenot said. “He’s a good listener.”

Kubena-Fontenot said after learning Bellin’s story, “they’ll say things like, ‘Oh, I was beaten, too.’”

Now 11 years old, the beloved Husky is semi-retired, his owners said.

“The spirit is willing, but you know how it is. We all get a little older. We can’t quite do as much as we used to,” Steven Fontenot said. 

The couple said Bellin can’t stand as long as he once did and needs to sit down more. When they put on Bellin's Pet Partners vest, Fontenot said, “His eyes perk up. He’s on his feet, and he’s just ready to work.”

The couple said Bellin has also helped others through Therapy Animals of San Antonio

On Tuesday, they came bearing nearly 200 Christmas gifts collected through Bellin’s Toy Drive.

Fontenot said the children are now in safe hands at the shelter, “but all they know is that they’ve lost their homes and their families. There’s no need for them to lose Christmas, too.”

About the Author:

Jessie Degollado has been with KSAT since 1984. She is a general assignments reporter who covers a wide variety of stories. Raised in Laredo and as an anchor/reporter at KRGV in the Rio Grande Valley, Jessie is especially familiar with border and immigration issues. In 2007, Jessie also was inducted into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.