MCHENRY – Centegra Health System has offered animal assisted therapy for many years and is working to increase the number of patients visited by the furry friends. The Caring Paws Program is offering animal assisted therapy classes Feb. 20 and 21 at Centegra Hospital-McHenry.
Participating dogs must have basic obedience skills and love meeting new people. Upon successful completion of the three-part program the handler and his or her dog will be eligible for national registration through the Delta Society, a leading international resource for the human-animal bond.
Bonnie Saban, manager of volunteer services for Centegra Health System, said studies have shown that animals can develop such strong bonds with people that the interactions between the two have proven to be a huge benefit in the healing process of patients.
“Therapy dogs are an aid in that they help to fill needs that cannot be met in other ways,” Saban said. “They are a source of unconditional love and concentrated attention that provides relief, a stimulus for exercise and also gives much pleasure to patients.”
Saban added that many patients are motivated to work harder toward their recovery with animal therapy because it is more fun than working solely with a human therapist.
The cost of the animal assisted therapy classes is $100. Attendance at Sessions 1 & 2 is required to participate in the evaluation. For more information or to register, call (815) 759-4334.