Animal Assisted Therapy

A local hospital celebrated a milestone of lending paws to patients in need.
Edward Hospital’s Animal Assisted Therapy Program recently hit the ten-year mark.

Volunteer handlers bring trained therapy dogs to visit patients in hopes of brightening their day.
“After the dogs leave [the patients] are a little bit more relaxed and willing to talk with the staff,” said Edward Hospital Nurse Laure Kanealy. “They are just more clam and compliant with the plan of care. Overall it is just great!”

Hospital staff, volunteers, and their dogs gathered for a party highlighting all the program has accomplished over the years.
At the start, the program had 15 therapy dogs that visited two days a week. Today, there are 95 different dog and handler teams that make it possible for visits every weekday.

“It is humbling, surreal, and it snowballed,” said Patty Kaplan, the creator of the program. “I had no idea it would be what it is. It’s been a great 10 years, a great journey.”

Before entering the program, dogs must undergo temperament training and other testing to give the best patient dog experience.

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