The benefits of pet therapy for patients are endless. It helps lower blood pressure, releases endorphins that have a calming effect, diminishes overall pain and it can even help increase a patient's motivation to recover faster.
Carilion Clinic started its pet therapy program, Pet Pals, in 1998. As part of our Volunteer Services department, the program includes over 20 volunteer pets and their handlers.
However, before these special teams can even set foot in our clinical settings, they must go through about three months of training and pass a rigorous certification through Pet Partners. Needless to say, these volunteers are dedicated to their work!
Once they are certified, the Pet Pal volunteers regularly visit our clinical facilities much to the enjoyment of our patients and our staff. (Note: At this time, Pet Pals are not able to visit patients, so they're practicing for the day those restrictions change by cheering up the staff at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital.)
"It is a different kind of care, but very important," explained Lisha Osborne, nursing unit director of the pediatric intensive care unit at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. "It is very healing to have the pets come through and be able to touch them and talk to them."
To see the benefits of these powerful pets in action, we tagged along with Bella, Gus and Cash the pony as they visited various units at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. Watch the videos below to see the amazing effect these pets have on our patients and our staff.
Pet Pals is just one of many ways volunteers support our patients and their loved ones. Find out how you can help by visiting our Volunteers page.