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Sarasota Memorial's Pet Therapy Program Brings Joy and Support to Patients

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GingerDec. 29, 2010- (Sarasota, Fl) - Sarasota Memorial Health Care System (SMHCS) has had a thriving Pet Therapy program on Comprehensive Rehabilitation Unit (CRU) for the past 13 years. In spring 2010, SMHCS expanded the program with a pilot starting with visits to Pediatrics, Sarasota Memorial Nursing and Rehabilitation (SMNR) and Inpatient Oncology and Day Treatment Units. SMHCS resumed Pet Therapy on CRU on April 29, 2010. Pediatrics started on May 6, 2010, SMNR on May 26, 2010 and Inpatient Oncology and Day Treatment Units on June 3, 2010.

Pet Therapy has been documented from as early as the 1700’s. It celebrates the importance of the human-animal bond and the integral role of animals in supporting healing. Studies show physiological and psychological benefits can be achieved such as: a decrease in blood pressure and stress as well as an increase in longevity. Pet Therapy is a goal directed intervention and animals can be used as a tool in therapy sessions to focus on increasing upper and lower extremity strengthening, fine motor coordination, trunk flexion, addressing neglect, increasing problem solving and memory skills, and improving auditory comprehension. Pet Therapy also improves socialization, promotes a positive outlook at life and promotes a better outcome in healing and the rehabilitation process.

All dogs are assessed through the Humane Society of Sarasota County and have been approved by a certifying organization to provide Pet Therapy. Both dogs and owners are approved Volunteers with the Humane Society of Sarasota County and SMHCS.

Our Pet Therapy Volunteers are:
Kirby (Yorkshire Terrier) and owner Barbara, Parker (Shih Tzu) and owner Macie, Finnegan (Bichon Frise) and owner Mary Ellen, Ginger (Golden Retriever) and owner Vivian and Gracie (Soft Coated Wheaton Terrier) and owner Nancie.

All are very excited to be a part of the SMHCS Pet Therapy program!

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