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News Thursday, March 23, 2017

Pet therapy: help from our furry friends

During hospitalization, patients and their families often lack the opportunity for normal social activities and interaction. While the daily routines of our families appropriately focus on the patient’s immediate needs, lack of socialization can place unintended strain on patients, both physically and emotionally. To aid us in facilitating socialization and normalizing our hospital environment, Shriners Hospitals for Children — Shreveport is fortunate to welcome a variety of canine teams into our hospital to interact with our children as a form of pet therapy. These dog/handler teams are often able to address social and physical concerns regarding patients in a positive, emotionally supportive and enjoyable way.

For more than20 years, the Shreveport Shriners Hospital has offered an animal-assisted socialization program to our patients and families. The volunteer teams that comprise this program include both a handler and a specially trained dog. These dogs may be of any breed, over the age of one, and must possess current certification or registration with either the Delta Society or Therapy Dogs International (TDI), both of which train pets for interactions in health care or other unique environments.

For patients at the Shreveport Shriners Hospital, animal-assisted therapy provides the following benefits:

Whether making a scheduled visit or arriving to address the needs of an individual patient who may be struggling with postoperative pain or difficulties in therapy, our dedicated volunteers are always just a phone call away. While the specific goals of an interaction vary depending on the patient, the visits bring with them benefits and enjoyment common to all patients.