OSF St. Anthony Medical Center seeks dogs/owners for Animal-Assisted Therapy Program

From press release

No, we’re not going to the dogs. OSF St. Anthony Medical Center is inviting the dogs, along with their owners, to come to OSF.

OSF St. Anthony Medical Center is recruiting social, well-mannered, predictable dogs for its very successful Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program. AAT uses highly-trained animals and handlers to help patients achieve specific physical, social, cognitive and emotional goals. Therapy dogs and their owners visit the hospital and bring comfort to patients, reducing stress, anxiety and blood pressure, and increasing patient social interaction and communication.

Eligible dogs and handlers must meet specific requirements. Dogs need to be at least 1 year old; be able to demonstrate proficiency in basic obedience; and be up to date on inoculations (including rabies, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, par influenza Bordetella and corona virus). Dogs should have lived with their handlers for a minimum of six months and must be clean, with no signs of fleas, ticks or dermatitis, and have proof of annual heartworm test. Once admitted to the program, dogs need to be on flea protection year round, and have a bi-annual stool check. Dogs with allergies will not be permitted in the program. Dog handlers must be at least 18 years old, be dependable and prompt, with good communication skills.

Applications for the therapy program are available online at www.osfsaintanthony.org and are due by Jan. 20, 2010. Qualifying dogs will go through temperament testing, scheduled for Jan. 23. There will be a $30 fee for this testing. Dogs that pass will be invited to a mandatory training program through Midwest Canine Academy and Paws 4 Therapy, held Feb. 7, 13 and 14, 2010. Dogs successfully completing the training will be registered with Therapy Dogs, Inc.

For more information about AAT at OSF St. Anthony, contact Theresa Geraci, BSN, RN, at (815) 227-2500.

From the Dec. 16-22, 2009 issue

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