All pet owners know how much enjoyment they get from their pets. There is the unconditional devotion they give us, the exercise we can all use, the responsibility we feel when we care for them or any number of things that we like about owning pets. There are even proven physiological benefits from pet ownership (see below)
Pet Therapy gives pet owners an opportunity to share those benefits with people who cannot have pets due to a variety of reasons. There are three pet therapy activities: Pet Visitation, Animal Assisted Activities and Animal Assisted Therapy. At present, Pet Visitation is the only activity carried out by PAWS teams.
Pet Visitation consists of unstructured visits in a variety of locations. We make regular visits to Alberta Health Services Facilities and Programs (Hospital, Bridges Program, Recovery Centre), Rotary House, Fort McMurray International Airport, Keyano College and Schools as well as other facilities in the region. We explore other visitation opportunities as they arise.
Pet Visitation gives people an opportunity to interact with a companion animal. It is also an opportunity for residents to have extra visitors, someone they can talk to; perhaps reminisce about their own pets, or share stories. The handler and pet team is able to provide some small comfort to the lives of the individuals that are visited.
So, in short, what is Pet Therapy?
It is a program that provides the opportunity for interaction between people and companion animals in an informal and safe environment. Pet Therapy is therapeutic, encourages social interaction and results in stress relief.
“Therapy by your pet, not for your pet”