An article in USA Today has brought to light what many of us pet owners have known for a long time: pets can help us heal. They may not be able to prescribe medication or give us solutions to problems we are facing, but by simply being there and allowing us to pet them, giving us back affection, we can heal and decrease anxiety.
Healing Paws at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Florida is one of a growing number of dog visitation programs around the country. This program, launched in May, allows long-term pediatric patients to reunite with their family pets in a designated area near the hospital’s entrance. While therapy dogs can help and bring a smile to someone. A visit from the family pet can have a greater effect, according to Emily Patterson, an animal welfare scientist of the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Family pet visitation programs in hospitals are rare because of strict medical and legal restrictions, said Sandra Barker, director of the School of Medicine Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University. There are concerns of bringing in germs and bacteria as well as unknown elements like the type of shampoo used on the dog. Therapy dogs are typically well-screened and their medical history as well as diet and other elements are recorded to ensure no allergic reactions occur. Pets who visit must be older than 12 weeks, vaccinated, and potty-trained. While a therapy dog can bring about happiness, there is something more magical when it’s your own buddy.
“When a trained therapy dog visits, it’s like getting a strange person to perform music. It adds excitement to your day. When your dear pet visits, it’s like a friend is visiting you. It reconnects you with your community. You feel trusted and reassured,” says Emily Patterson. And we, at Pets Welcome, wholeheartedly agree. It’s amazing to see how pets are being embraced as just more than a plaything or pet. They are a member of the family and contribute love and affection in ways that are unexplainable and important.
To read the complete article, go here.
Image from USA Today