Animal Assisted Therapy

Animal-assisted activities provide opportunities for motivational, educational and/or recreational benefits to enhance a person’s quality of life. Animal-assisted therapy (AAT) is a goal-directed intervention using animals as in integral part of the treatment process.

What Makes Therapy Animals Special?

Animals are usually personal pets of their owners.

Therapy animals are trained and must pass a behavioral and temperament test to become certified as a Therapy animal.

Animals must be certified by the Delta Society or Therapy Dogs International (TDI).

Benefits of Animal Assisted Therapy


  • Decreases feelings of isolation
  • Improve communication
  • Foster trust
  • Provides unconditional love
  • Enhance quality of life
  • Decrease stress and anxiety
  • Motivate patients
  • Assist in coping with hospitalization and effects of diagnosis
  • Comforts patient, family members and friends


  • Improve physical functioning
  • Increase relaxation
  • Reduce blood pressure and heart rate
  • Distracts patient from pain
  • Provides an opportunity to exercise
  • Provides companionship
  • Provides sensory stimulation through touch

Is Animal Assisted Therapy Right For You?

  • You miss your pets at home
  • You have physicians approval
  • You feel stressed or anxious
  • You have been in the hospital for more than a day

Activities for You and Your Therapy Dog

  • Pet the dog
  • Walk the dog with handler and recreation therapist
  • Throw ball for dog
  • Play hide-and-seek with dog
  • Give dog verbal commands and/or hand signals
  • Talk about past/present pets

Top Reasons for a Therapy Dog Visit

  • To meet the hospital’s, furry, lovable doctors
  • To take a walk with a four-footed friend
  • To tell your secrets to somebody who will never tell
  • Because you miss your pets at home
  • Because they won’t bother you with a stethoscope or needles
  • Because the dog wants to be hugged
  • Because you need a hug
  • Because the dogs enjoy visiting with you as much as you enjoy visiting with them

If you would like a therapy dog visit during your hospitalization, please ask your nurse to ask your doctor to enter a consult for a therapy dog visit under recreation therapy.  Allowances for therapy dog visits vary depending on the unit. If a therapy dog can visit, recreation therapy will attempt to make arrangements to bring a therapy dog to your area, schedule permitting.

If you would like information on how to bring your therapy dog to WFBMC, contact Suzanne Thompson at 336-713-3088 or

If you would like information on how to train your dog to become a therapy dog, contact Delta Society or Therapy Dogs International (TDI)