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Who We Serve

Our service monkeys are provided at no cost to our recipients.

Maryanne and Jessica: An Update

You probably already know that we provide lifetime support for our recipient-service monkey pairs. Last summer, this meant hiring an attorney to help us reunite Maryanne and Jessica when we discovered her county had enacted a law to prevent people from owning exotic pets. Unfortunately, there was no exemption for service animals like our highly trained monkeys. After being together for seven years, Maryanne and Jessica were separated for five months while the attorney worked with lawmakers to help reunite them.

Read about Maryanne's experience:

Maryanne and JessicaI don’t have an exciting story to tell about how I was injured. One minute I was standing and the next minute I wasn’t. I sat down and I never stood back up again. I had a blood clot on my spine that left me a paraplegic. Jessica was a ray of sun in my life when we were paired together in 2010. We are a perfect team. Sometimes while she snuggles in my lap, I don’t know where I end and she begins! She is such a huge help to me.

In the spring of 2017 I got a call from Helping Hands. Alison Payne, Director of Monkey Care, explained that the laws in my county had recently changed regarding exotic animals. As we were talking I could feel my heart sinking lower and lower because I didn’t know what that really meant long term. She explained that there were currently no exemptions for service monkeys in the new law and that it could be very bad if someone reported Jessica—including the possibility of me going to jail and Jessica being seized by the county. She assured me they were going to do everything they could so that Jessica could come home, but that she would have to return to The Monkey College in the meantime.

So, to be on the safe side we sent her “on the lam” to the monkey protection program in Boston. The house was empty and quiet. I tried to keep busy while Helping Hands and the lawyers worked on the situation. Knowing that she was so far away was just heartbreaking. I missed her company and her snuggles when I was feeling down. It was really hard without her. It is like teamwork—a rhythm that we have that we anticipate each other’s needs. She makes life easier and more enjoyable. This may sound funny, but I seemed to drop things more while she was away. Or maybe not. Maybe I had gotten so used to Jessica being right beside me to always get things that I just THOUGHT I dropped things more, because I had to figure out another way to pick things up.

Maryanne and JessicaEveryone at Helping Hands was so nice and always so hopeful, saying, “it will be taken care of...we are doing what we can...it just takes time...” etc. They would send cards from her with her little art drawings, as well as pictures and videos. Everyone took such great care of her—it was like she was at summer camp. Five months passed and then I got the call that the lawyers had done their work. Jessica would be coming home!

I was so happy, relieved, overjoyed, and thankful. I know many people were working tirelessly on our behalf. Jessica has been home for five months, and it’s as though last summer never existed. We’re back to our normal routine (if you can say living with a monkey is normal), and we are extremely grateful to everyone involved with the “Bring Jessica Home” campaign.

We will never forget your generosity. Your dedication is greatly appreciated. Donors like you are what make Helping Hands great! There aren’t enough words to express how much I owe you all. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

To make more stories like MaryAnne's possible, consider making a donation today.