Visiting St. Mary Mercy Hospital, you may notice another kind of volunteer - pet therapy dogs. These four-legged friends visit patient rooms, waiting rooms and lobbies to interact with patients, families and staff. Each visit typically lasts two to three hours. The program has 15 to 20 registered therapy dogs throughout the year. Therapy dogs at St. Mary Mercy Livonia are trained by various instructors, but are evaluated by Therapy Dogs Inc. guidelines to become a registered therapy team.
Pet therapy has both physiological and psychological benefits. Not only does pet therapy help alleviate pain, it helps to make facilities more homelike and offers a change in a patient's routine. Spending time with animals can help patients feel less lonely. In turn, patients often become more active during and after a pet visit. Animal visits can also trigger memories of a patient's own pet, which stimulates conversation. Owning a pet can serve as a common bond between a patient and a caregiver. In fact, simply petting a dog or cat may help lower blood pressure.
These canine visitors can be small or large dogs and must meet certain requirements. For more information on the Pet Therapy program at St. Mary Mercy Hospital, contact the volunteer office at 734-655-2912.