It’s no secret that animals are special. We often treat our pets as our children, providing them the same love, affections, care and attention that we give to those in our family. Animals feel our pain, our joy and our stress.
Animals also allow people to focus, even if for a short period of time, on something other than themselves.
That’s why Mitchell County Hospital and Mitchell Convalescent Center recently introduced pet therapy to the list of services offered to help patients and residents recovering from illness and injury.
Pet therapy is a guided interaction between a person and a trained animal. The purpose of pet therapy is to help someone recover from or cope with a health problem. However, it’s not just the patient who reaps the benefits. Family members and friends who sit in on animal visits often feel better, too.
“Studies have shown that interaction with dogs can promote relaxation, relieve agitation, anxiety and stress,” said Terri Lasseter, director of social services. “It’s very fulfilling to see the smiles from patients, residents, loved ones and even our staff when the therapy dogs come to visit.”
Not to be confused with service dogs, therapy dogs help patients by simply visiting them. These special dogs have an ability to connect with and bring joy to all kinds of people, even those who are normally unresponsive or disconnected from their environments.
“These dogs enjoy human contact and attention,” said Terri. “Each therapy dog, and their handler, is specially trained on how to handle stressful situations that could occur in the healthcare setting.”
Each therapy dog that visits MCH and MCC is certified by Therapy Dog International (TDI) and holds American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen Certification, as well.
Pet Therapy takes place at Mitchell County Hospital every Tuesday, and at Mitchell Convalescent Center every Friday.