What is Pet Therapy

k9_28aPet therapy is a service that is provided by people and their registered animals. Studies have shown that a patient’s blood pressure is lowered and the immune system is strengthened when interacting with companion animal. Residents in long term care facilities become bored and lonely. Animal visits lift the spirits and in some cases eliminate or reduce the need for psychotropic drugs.

claudeTherapy animals are also useful in physical therapy. Grooming, petting or throwing a ball can increase range of motion and provide low impact exercise for the residents.

Animals are registered throughTherapy Dog International registering your animal is very important because it insures the pet owner in case of an incident. It is important for the facility to know that an animal is tested and determined to be safe to visit residents.


k9_17aK-9 Healers Intergenerational Pet Therapy Project or “K-9 Kids” was a project that brought together youth, residents of the Homestead Long Term Care Facility, and registered Pet Therapy dogs. Gail Furst founded this program in 1995 with her registered boxer, “Rosie”, and one child visiting the Homestead room to room. The program gave youth the opportunity to develop safe, caring relationships with the senior citizens while at the same time taking pride in their work as dog handlers and helpers. The youth attended the after-school program every Wednesday during the school year. They arrived at the Homestead, joined the three facilitators and gathered in a common room to talk about their day. Once everyone had a chance to relax they would join the residents in their activity room to participate in an intergenerational craft project. During the program the youth shared in decision making:  who gets to take care of the dogs, as well as helping some of the residents cut paper, glue, and finish their art project. Throughout the program the youth were showered with praise by the facilitators as well as the residents.

k9_18aThe K-9 Kids goals included enhancing each participant’s use of personal power by learning how to safely handle a dog in a nursing home; providing human and canine companionship to nursing home Residents; promoting each participant’s ability to use self-control; increasing each participant’s self esteem, empathy, patience, and positive sense of self-worth; teaching the participant’s how to praise and providing them with opportunities to receive praise from facilitators, residents, and each other. The program also taught the children reverence for all life, a cornerstone in violence prevention

k9_23aThe K-9 Kids Project was nationally recognized twice. The first was when it was listed by the Humane Society of the United States directory of Animal-Related Programs for Violence Prevention and Intervention (www.hsus.org). The second recognition was by America’s Promise in 2000. America’s Promise is a campaign founded by General Colin Powell.(www.americaspromise.org). K-9 Kids was highlighted as a program that brings youth into Finger Lakes Health, with which the Homestead is affiliated.

For more information about K-9 Healers, Pet Therapy, Dog Training, Therapy Dog International, setting up Guidelines for having animals visit your facility or setting up programs bringing youth into a facility with certified animals, please feel free to contact Gail by email or by calling her. 585-429-0776

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