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Animal-Assisted Activities and Therapy

Health benefits of animals

Over the last decade, dozens of studies have proven the health benefits of having animals in your life. From animal owners' having lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, to animal-assisted therapy reducing loneliness among residents of long-term care facilities, it is clear that an animal-human relationship produces tangible rewards.

Why bring animals to the hospital?

The animal-assisted activities and therapy programs at St. Joseph Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital are designed to bring the health benefits of interacting with animals to our patients, including:

  • help patients relax
  • provide an incentive for patients to return home to their own pets
  • take patients’ minds off their illness or injury
  • bring the healing power of animals to people in need

The animal-human volunteer team

Franciscan’s animal-assisted activities and therapy programs are operated as a partnership between the hospitals' Volunteer Services departments and Delta Society's Pet Partners.

Human volunteers are oriented and trained in the same manner as other hospital volunteers, with a focus on core values, patient confidentiality, ethics and customer service.

In addition, the Delta Society's Pet Partners Program requires animals and their handlers to complete a vigorous screening and training program before they can participate in visiting animal programs in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools and other facilities.

Pet Partners ensures that "both ends of the leash" – people as well as animals – are well prepared for their roles.

Dogs and cats are the most common therapy animals, but many types of animals are eligible to participate.

For more information, contact Volunteer Services.