Animal Assisted Therapy Program
Animal assisted therapy, more commonly known as Pet Therapy helps people of all ages:
- With children and adolescents, therapy dogs help demonstrate how to follow direction, teach calming strategies, and stimulate play.
- With adults, therapy dogs help promote socialization, reduce feelings of isolation and depression, encourage positive feelings.
- With seniors, therapy dogs help improve memory and organization and provide sensory experiences through touch, sight, and sound (Brown, 2009).
Facts About Pet Therapy:
Lowers blood pressure.
- Decreases stress.
- Increases social interactions.
- Provides a sense of psychological and emotional wellness, which in turn, helps patients overcome feelings of depression and loneliness.
- Helps foster a sense of safety, support and trust in a health care setting.
Why Pet Therapy?
Pet therapy has long helped patients in children’s hospitals and in nursing homes find comfort, happiness and a sense of calmness. These positive patient experiences are now a part of Butler Hospital’s efforts to enhance the environment of care for patients at all age levels.
Pet therapy involves personal interactions, like petting and playing, between patients and a trained animal, under the supervision of the animal’s owner or handler.
For patients in the hospital’s senior unit, where the program began in 2009 through the encouragement of Dr. Frederick Guggenheim of Butler Hospital and his certified therapy dog, Annie, pet therapy brings the feeling of home a little closer. "Some of our patients have left their pets in the care of others when they come to the hospital. Having a pet therapy dog on the unit gives them an opportunity to spend some time with a gentle, loving animal, which they’re used to."
Being admitted to the hospital can also be a time of high anxiety for patients. One study published by the American Psychiatric Association Journal noted statistically significant reductions in anxiety levels for hospitalized psychiatric patients who were offered pet therapy.
The program is offered to patients on all of the hospital’s inpatient treatment units, including the child and adolescent units, as well the partial hospital program.
The owners ensure their animals meet all the standards set by a certifying agency and Butler Hospital policies for medical pet therapy, including licensing, credentialing and general liability insurance.