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HEALTH Welcomes Pet Therapy Dogs for Eighth Consecutive Year

Today the Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH) kicked off its continuing partnership with a group of credentialed family therapy dogs and their guardians. Beginning today, and every Tuesday throughout the month of July, dogs and employees from the Windwalker Humane Coalition for Professional Pet Assisted Therapy will be on site to greet visitors in HEALTH's lobby. This is the eighth year that Windwalker members have been welcomed by HEALTH.

"Pets impact health in positive ways," said Director of Health, Michael Fine, MD. "Pets can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, decrease feelings of isolation and sadness, and contribute to a person's overall sense of well-being."

The dogs and their guardians are all graduates of the Professional Pet Assisted Therapy University Certificate Program at the Community College of Rhode Island. Windwalker members provide Professional Pet Assisted Therapy in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and anywhere the therapy is needed. The pets provide incentive for those they meet to perform physical therapy exercises, go for walks, and they provide comfort and socialization for those in need. They also give children learning to read the comfort and confidence-building opportunity to read to a pet.

The long-standing relationship between Windwalker and HEALTH began in 1993, when then Director of Health, Patricia Nolan, MD, started a committee to study Pet Assisted Therapy.

To learn more about Windwalker or the University Certificate Program at CCRI, please email: joannsutcliffe@yahoo.com or call Pearl Salotto at 401-734-1888.

Related links

Department or agency: Department of Health

Online: http://www.health.ri.gov

Release date: 07-03-2013

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