Every Hospital Needs An Animal Therapy Program To Cultivate Wellness

If your hospital doesn’t have an animal therapy program in place yet, it’s worth looking into.

December 15, 2017
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For many years, people have been bringing dogs into hospice care centers and retirement homes to bring people joy and provide companionship. Animals are the highest expression of unconditional love, and having them around, even for a short period of time, is enough to raise people’s spirits. They’re basically furry therapists.

Animals are the best medicine on the planet. Their antics provide entertainment and laughs, and their unconditional love and loyalty are unbeatable. The soothing, calming nature of animals is the reason many people with anxiety disorders and depression get a certified emotional support animal. Animals have been proven to reduce high blood pressure associated with stress, often exceeding what medication can do.

Service and emotional support animals aren’t pets

Service animals and emotional support animals aren’t considered pets for legal reasons, but that doesn’t mean a pet can’t provide support. In fact, many people get their existing pets certified as emotional support animals because they’ve already developed a therapeutic bond with them.

Support animals come in all species

It’s not just dogs and cats that provide emotional support, either. Animals of all kinds have been proven to decrease the depression, anxiety, and fatigue that many people face on a daily basis. Rats make fantastic emotional support animals, since they’re smart, social, and love to snuggle and play. They’re also easy to house and cheap to feed; rats will eat just about anything they’re given.

For now, trained and well-behaved dogs are generally the only animals allowed in hospitals due to the fact that they’re easier to train than other species.

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Everyone should have access to animals when they’re ill

Emotional support animals are vital to the wellbeing of their owners, and in most cases they’re allowed to visit their owners in the hospital. However, when a patient is in the hospital and doesn’t already have a support animal, they would benefit greatly from an animal therapy program.

Every hospital should look into starting an animal therapy program to support the wellbeing of their patients. There are rules that govern animal visitations in hospitals, but they’re straightforward and easy to comply with. Seeing patients recover faster is worth it.

Pet therapy guidelines for animal visitations

In 2015, SHEA rolled out new guidelines for animal visitations in hospitals that covers service animals, research animals, animal therapy programs, and personal pet visitation. The purpose of the new guidelines is to protect patients from the spread of infections and disease.

SHEA admits they’re not certain of the role animals play in spreading bacteria, but because animals are visiting hospitals more frequently, they’re doing their best to protect patients.

It’s not hard to start an animal therapy program. Paws For People has an informative guide on how to start a program safely and effectively. The guide covers diet, grooming, certification, and training requirements.

Animals are being welcomed everywhere

Service animals are automatically allowed to go everywhere their owner goes, including to restaurants and the hospital. Emotional support animals have come a long way in gaining some of the same legal protection, but they have yet to be given the full spectrum of protection like service animals.

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The good news is that as more legislation is adopted in favor of emotional support animals, the easier it will be for hospitals to employ animal therapy programs. For instance, emotional support animals weren’t always treated like service animals in the housing sector. Many years ago, it was up to the landlord to accept a tenant’s request to have a support animal. Today, things are changing and emotional support animals are gaining legal support.

Rental experts from Green Residential explain the difference, “Although they are not awarded the same legal protections as service animals in public places, the FHA requires landlords to accept the presence of documented emotional support animals. As with service dogs, landlords must also waive pet fees or deposits for owners of emotional support animals.”

Even startups are transforming their offices into dog-friendly places. Having dogs around is therapeutic, and everyone knows it.

Every hospital needs an animal therapy program

If your hospital doesn’t have an animal therapy program in place yet, it’s worth looking into. It will take careful consideration and planning, but in the end, having furry friends will put smiles on the faces of patients who are ill, and will bring joy to others who are in pain. That’s what patient care is all about