U.S. Naval Hospital Guam launches Pet Therapy Program
AGANA HEIGHTS, GUAM – U.S. Naval Hospital Guam and its Red Cross Chapter held a cake cutting ceremony October 15th to welcome its newest four-legged, Red Cross Volunteers, Millie, Shana, and Luna. These volunteers are helping to launch the first animal assisted therapy program offered at the hospital.
“We will be bringing in dogs that are completely screened for health and behavior. They will be with their respective handlers visiting with patients and staff,” said Amanda Mitchell Red Cross Volunteer and Pet Visitation Coordinator. Mitchell, who was inspired by her dog Luna, spear headed the program with hopes of bringing cheer and comfort to others during difficult times.
Millie, Shana, and Luna are certified Pet Therapy dogs who have undergone rigorous testing to ensure they can be integrated into the hospital environment. The handlers have also been certified in order to participate in the program.
“We want to help patients with any of the psychological aspects associated with going to the doctor such as fear or even feelings of grief, the dogs can provide a sense of companionship as well as a sense of unconditional love and joy,” said Lt. Stacie Groves, one of the Pet Visitation Coordinators and a nurse who works in the hospital’s Mother Baby Unit.
Pet therapy is believed to have many benefits, not only for patients but staff as well, including personal and social development, increased self-esteem, improved mental health, better social skills and increased empathy and nurturing skills. The dogs will seen at the hospital on various days during the week, information will be provided on the hospital’s Facebook page. Mitchell and Groves are hoping to expand the program and those interested in participating should contact the hospital’s Red Cross Office.