Saint Anthony seeks dogs, owners for animal assisted therapy program

August 1, 2012

Online Staff Report

OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center is recruiting social, well-mannered, predictable dogs for its 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.

Temperament testing to determine if canine candidates meet the specific requirements of the program is scheduled for Aug. 11 in the Foundation Room at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, 5666 E. State St. Time slots are from 8 to 10 a.m. and 10 a.m. to noon. A 1 to 3 p.m. time slot will be added if the morning slots fill up.

A $20 fee is required for testing; the fee is refunded if the dog does not pass.

Dogs that pass temperament testing must attend a mandatory training program Sept. 28-30 through Dog Builders and Paws 4 Therapy. Dogs that successfully complete the program will be registered with a therapy dog organization.

Requirements for therapy dogs mean that the dog must be at least 1 year old, must demonstrate proficiency in basic obedience, be up to date on inoculations (including rabies, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, par influenza, Bordetella and corona virus), they must have lived with handlers for a minimum of six months, be clean with no sign of fleas, ticks or dermatitis, and must have proof of annual heartworm test.

Once admitted to the program, dogs need to be on flea protection year-round. Dogs with allergies will not be permitted in the program. Dog handlers must be at least 18 years old, be dependable and prompt, and have good communication skills.

For more information or to sign up for temperament testing, contact Theresa Geraci, BSN, RN, at (815) 227-2500. Applications are available at osfsaintanthony.org/about/animal-assisted.html. Deadline to register is Aug. 3.

Posted Aug. 1, 2012

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