DOWNEY – PIH Health has announced the launch of its volunteer pet therapy program at PIH Health Hospital - Downey.
The therapy program has expanded since it first started at PIH Health Hospital - Whittier in 2001 with one active therapy dog. Currently, the program has grown to 15 therapy dogs, along with their volunteer handlers.
“Our pet therapy teams consist of a PIH Health volunteer and a dog that has passed a rigorous course from a recognized canine training organization,” says Marianne Cota, CAVS, director of PIH Health Volunteer Services. “Dogs must also have passed a veterinary inspection and be up to date on all shots.”
Pet therapy dogs are groomed within 24 hours prior to a hospital visit. While on campus, dogs must remain on a leash. Volunteers are also required to follow proper hygiene between patient visits.
“Patients, along with PIH Health staff and physicians, have expressed gratitude for the PIH Health Pet Therapy program and regularly request visits or stop along the halls of the hospital to hug the pet therapy dogs,” says Cota.
Studies have shown pet therapy visitation programs provide benefits to both patients and staff alike, including reduced blood pressure and heart rate, improved physical functioning, decreased stress and anxiety, enhanced pain management, improved communication, and a sense of well-being.
Those interested in volunteering their dog’s services can submit an application for the PIH Health Pet Therapy program online at PIHHealth.Org/Volunteer.
Therapy dogs visit most patient units at PIH Health’s Whittier and Downey campuses, including those receiving chemotherapy in the Radiation/Oncology Center. The dogs also visit patients in the Emergency Department.