Pet Therapy: Hospitals Allow Patients’ Own Dogs to Visit

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In an attempt to help patients heal more quickly, a growing number of hospitals have taken their pet therapy programs even farther, and are now allowing patients to have visits from their own pets.

According to ABC News,

The program started at Texas Children’s four years ago, when administrators were approached by an organization called PAWS (Pets Are Wonderful Support) Houston, a non-profit organization the helps to sustain the relationships between pet owners and their pets during a prolonged hospitalization.

Here’s how it works: a social worker or child life specialist, hearing that a patient has a pet at home, speaks to doctors who can approve a visit. Then PAWS is contacted. They ensure that the pet is vaccinated and has a bath before the visit. A PAWS volunteer will meet the pet and family members at the entrance of the hospital where they perform a “behavior check” to make sure the pet’s temperament is good for a hospital environment. They then take the pet to the patient’s room.

Patients are applauding this new trend in treatment, and if prior studies are any indication, healing time and overall costs associated with care are likely to drop for those lucky enough to recover in the company of a pet.
ABC recently visited Texas Children’s Hospital to speak with Tabitha Fleaks, a participant in the program, and a true believer in the healing power of pets.