Hospice of Southwest Georgia Introduces Pet Therapy for Patients

By: Matt Galka Email
By: Matt Galka Email

Thomasville, GA -- March 21, 2012 --

The Hospice of Southwest Georgia, an extension of Archbold Medical Center, is now offering a new pet program.

"Hospice of Southwest Georgia has a new program offering therapy dogs, pet therapy for our patients," said Lorie Hodges Garrett, the physician/referral source liaison for Hospice of Southwest Georgia.

The Furry Friends program is hoping to help patients through interaction with specially trained dogs. The folks at the Hospice of Southwest Georgia said that this program made perfect sense for the area.

""There are so many great dogs here, and we wanted people to have the opportunity to share those pets with something great like volunteering for hospice just to bring happiness and joy to a family during a hard time," said Garrett.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, pets can help lower your blood pressure and decrease risks for heart disease. Beyond that, these dogs can help with the loneliness that sometimes affects hospice patients.

"When a dog comes into the room it just changes the mood, changes the atmosphere, and puts a smile on their face," explained Garrett.

The volunteer dogs are not just good family pets. They have to be certified by Dog Therapy International testing that goes beyond sit, stay, and heel.

"The Therapy Dogs International test involves walking past a treat, which can be tough for some dogs, but also involves getting used to wheelchairs, medical equipment, and children," said Leigh Ann Falconer, owner of Bark Buster's Home Dog Training and volunteer trainer for the program.

To enroll in the class or for more information on how you and your pet can participate in Furry Friends, call 229-224-5815.

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