Sign In

Pet Therapy Program

October 9, 2020

Saturday, October 10 is World Mental Health Day, which this year has a new sense of urgency for many. Covid-19 has taken a mental and emotional toll on healthcare workers across the U.S but there is a program boosting the spirits of doctors and nurses on the frontlines.

At UC Irvine Medical Center in Southern California, therapy dogs Dexter and Monet have an important mission, to bring smiles and comfort to healthcare workers. The dogs are part of the hospital’s volunteer pet therapy program, visiting employees once a month.

Brad Giafaglione oversees the program and says it’s more crucial than ever.

“We really needed a way to decompress and destress our staff. We thought to ourselves, if it works well for the patients, why wouldn’t it work well for our staff,” he says.

Healthcare workers are vulnerable to burnout from their high stress jobs.

Recent international studies show during the pandemic, some workers are reporting high rates of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and PTSD. A recent global survey from KPMG found 59% of healthcare workers said their mental health had worsened due to the pandemic, that’s compared to 51% in industries outside of healthcare.

“This is a new pandemic and new front that we’re all facing,” says ICU nurse Brian Cruz, who cares for critically ill COVID patients. He says the pressure of the crisis has been tremendous. But thanks to the cuddly canines in the pet therapy program, that stress slips away for a little.

“Seeing him happy, the energy transfers over to me, and I feel calm,” Cruz says. Cruz says he has felt periods of depression and sadness, but the dogs help him through them.

For Cruz, the furry faces and belly rubs are the perfect prescription.

“This is natural happiness and joy from a creature to a creature, and that will help me give that joy and happiness to my patients when I return to work,” he says.

Register Your Dog

  • Most Recent News

    Big Dogs Need Owners

    When the shutdown orders took full effect, it became nearly impossible to find a small dog available for adoption as Southlanders sought furry companions. In many Southland shelters, only larger breeds remained available for adoption. Now Los Angeles Animal Service is touting the joys of big dogs while offering discounted adoption fees for larger breeds […]

    Read more

    Service Dog Walkathon

    On Saturday, October 3, hundreds of walkers from across 15 states joined the path to bettering the world for children with autism and their families as part of BluePath Service Dogs’ fourth annual walkathon. The family-friendly fundraiser – this year held virtually – raised more than $120,000 to further BluePath’s mission of providing autism service […]

    Read more

    Service Dog In The Marching Band

    In a year that is anything but normal, the Jones College Maroon Typhoon Marching Band has welcomed its first known service dog member this fall. Laurie, a 3-year-old golden retriever, is baritone saxophone player Sara-Beth McKellar’s service dog. The Vicksburg native was diagnosed with epilepsy as a sophomore in high school after her first seizure. […]

    Read more

    Church Blesses Animals

    St. Mary’s Church of the Immaculate Conception in Port Jervis hosted a special outdoor service last Sunday afternoon to bless the community’s pets, animals and other living creatures. In keeping with current pandemic rules, pet owners wore masks, remained distant, and took part in praying for dogs, cats, turtles, and other pets and animals around […]

    Read more

    Police Welcome New Canine

    After the unexpected passing of longtime Police Service Dog Zeus earlier this week, Kingston Police are welcoming a new member to the Canine Unit. Police Service Dog Bask, also known as K9-8, is a Dutch Shepherd and Belgium Malinois mix, and will be patrolling the streets of Kingston with his handler Constable Jeff Dickson. Bask […]

    Read more

    Dog Park For Travelers

    St. Petersburg is widely recognized as a dog-friendly city, and St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport is making sure its four-legged visitors and their humans feel welcome by rolling out the artificial turf carpet. With the completion of the airport’s parking and roadway project – part of a series of multi-million dollar improvements at the airport over the […]

    Read more