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Sometimes, the best friend a person can have is the four-legged, furry kind.
At Ballad Health facilities, the pet therapy program brings specially trained dogs in to lift the spirits of patients and create a healing environment.
Help for physical, emotional and social healing
Studies have confirmed what people have known for years: Therapy dogs help people physically, emotionally and socially.
Some of the benefits to patients include:
- Greater comfort and happiness
- Decreased stress, anxiety, blood pressure and heart rates
- Unconditional love and lifted spirits
…all while contributing to the healing process of those who have been hospitalized.
Seeing the positive effects the dogs have on patients, clinical leaders and nurses often request pet therapy for patients who are depressed, lonely or just need help relaxing.
Each dog in the program is trained and certified by a nationally recognized therapy dog program.
These organizations require dogs be tested around medical equipment, such as wheelchairs, crutches and walkers. Therapy dogs must be well-behaved around all ages, and able to ignore food or treats lying on the ground.
Most dogs are owned, trained and handled by community volunteers.
How to recognize a pet therapy dog
Pet therapy animals wear a bandana and have Ballad Health identification for easy identification.
Requirements for therapy dogs – and their owners
Think your pet might make a good therapy dog?
To use your dog for patient therapy, you and the dog must first meet these qualifications:
- Dogs must be 1 year old.
- Dogs must pass and obtain certification.
- Dogs must have current vaccinations and have current vet record of good health.
- Handlers must apply and complete all requirements to become a Ballad Health volunteer.
To learn more, find training and volunteer
For more information on training or volunteering with a pet therapy dog, please call (423) 431-2325.
Or learn about other volunteer opportunites at Ballad Health.