Mercy Medical Center's Pet Therapy Program began in 2008 in our Inpatient Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Unit with a golden retriever named Sugar, who visited monthly. The benefit was so rewarding for patients, their families, and the staff that Pet Therapy was implemented as an ongoing service.
We are delighted to now have six volunteer escorts and six owners with their seven specially-trained, therapy-certified dogs of all sizes - two Shetland Sheepdogs, a Beagle, an Italian Spinone, a Shepherd mix, an Akita, and a Lhasa Apso/Wheaton Terrier mix.
They visit patients in the Rehabilitation, Cancer Care and Geriatric/Medical units in the afternoon, two or three times a week.
The dogs bring unconditional friendship, and the owners and volunteer escorts offer pleasant conversation. For a few moments all worries are gone and life seems somewhat normal. This has been a win-win situation for patients, families, staff and Mercy's Pet Therapy Program.