Niagara Health Introduces Pet Therapy Program For Patients

 ‘The energy that radiates off  patients when you see them visiting with  pet therapy dogs is extraordinary.’

News from the Niagara Health System

Posted October 6th, 2016 on Niagara At Large

(A Note to NAL readersTo  clear up any confusion, we at NAL wish to advise you that the Niagara Health System – the  publicly funded body governing the amalgamation of hospital and related health care sites in Niagara, Ontario – has recently begun identifying itself in media releases simply as ‘Niagara Health’.)

A new program at Niagara Health has been a paw-sitive experience for our patients.

Here is Bosco, one of the dogs that is part of Niagara Health's new pet therapy program. Photo courtesy of Niagara Health System

Here is Bosco, one of the dogs that is part of Niagara Health’s new pet therapy program. Photo courtesy of Niagara Health System

Niagara Health’s first Pet Therapy Program, which was launched in partnership with the Therapy Dog Program of St. John Ambulance, Niagara Region Branch, is providing comfort and support to patients, their families and our staff.

Therapy dogs and their volunteer handler teams started bringing cheer to our patients in the Woolcott Wing at our Welland Site a few months ago.

The program has since expanded to the Mental Health Program at our St. Catharines site, where patients have dubbed the visits “Furry Friday.” Niagara Health is planning to have our four-legged friends visit patients at other sites in the future.

“The energy that radiates off the patients when you see them visiting with the pet therapy dogs is extraordinary,” says Natalee Little, a Co-ordinator of Volunteer Resources at Niagara Health.

“The peace and sense of calm it bring to the patients with a simple pet of a dog is truly remarkable. The Recreation Therapists on the units that St. John Ambulance currently visits have said that it is not only great therapy for the patients, but for the staff as well.”

Dr. Suzi Peters, Coordinator of the St John Ambulance Therapy Dog Program in Niagara, adds: “We are honoured to be partnering with Niagara Health on this wonderful program.”

“We hope the visits from the dogs brighten the moods of patients and their families. A visit from a therapy dog can also help bring a sense of normalcy to a patient. Being in a hospital for an extended period often means patients are away from their own family pets. Spending a few minutes with a loving dog may give them a much-needed boost.”

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