Pet Therapy

By: Rachel Calderon
By: Rachel Calderon

At six months old, Hershey already has a full time job. A Chocolate Lab is in training for Paws with a Cause. In a little more than a year, he'll be a certified service dog and living with someone with a physical disability.

For now, Hershey's job is to help patients like Mary Van Der Molen recover from hip replacement surgery.

"When a pet comes to visit you, it's like seeing a member of your family. It's been a lot like therapy for me," said Mary.

The Pet Therapy Program at Ingham Regional began 10 years ago. Every Tuesday, Hershey and more than 20 other dogs visit patients to help with their recovery process.

"It's been proven to lower high blood pressure. It can decrease stress and anxiety. I use it for people who've had a stroke or those with an upper extremity disability to get them moving that limb," Kelly Adams, Recreation Therapist.

Hershey and the other dogs also have the role of co-worker. "He brings up morale around the office. People come from other departments and floors just to see him," said Rodney Moore, Physical Therapist.

There are many roles for these dogs, but none seem to hesitate when duty calls.


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