Lauren’s pet therapy legacy

Lauren Corena was a “pure pet lover”, according to her father Mario.
“Pets were very dear to her, they were what she really loved,” he recalls. 

“She especially loved cats, but she really didn’t mind what animal, she loved them all.” 

Sadly, Lauren lost her life at the age of 26 after years battling mental health issues, including an eating disorder. 

But Mario is helping to keep Lauren’s spirit alive by sponsoring a pet therapy program at the Statewide Eating Disorder Service (SEDS). 

The program involves Delta Therapy pet -  West Highland Terrier, Bonnie - making weekly visits to SEDS at Flinders Medical Centre and Brighton. 

While it’s the first time SEDS has included pet therapy as part of its recovery program, SEDS Team Manager Emma Altman says pet therapy has known benefits in other areas of mental health, including work with veterans. 

“We do know that many people respond well to positive sensory experiences such as patting or playing with a dog as a means of helping them manage distress,” Emma says. 

“People were delighted at the first visit of Bonnie and (handler) Jennie, and a number of people commented on how fortunate they felt to have this opportunity within a health environment and thought this would be a valuable addition to their recovery experience. 

“Through his own personal experiences, Mario is aware how the connection with a pet can help a person with an eating disorder and his support has allowed many others to experience this.” 

Mario says he’s pleased to be able to help other people like Lauren: 

“I really believe that pets can help people, just by being there and giving their unconditional love.” 

“We can’t change what has happened in the past, but if we can provide some assistance to people and help them get better then hopefully more people with an eating disorder will go on to live happy lives.”  

Mario’s generous donation to Flinders Foundation has also enabled SEDS to purchase a new sensory modulation cart. This cart is a collection of different items used by occupational therapists to provide activities and behaviours to engage the senses. 

Speak to the Flinders Foundation team about how you can support a cause close to your heart. Call (08) 8204 5216 or email

Mario Corena and wife Pat with Flinders Foundation CEO Amanda Shiell, the SEDS team and Pet Therapy Dog Bonnie (left) and Mario Corena and wife Pat with Bonnie (right)

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