(WESH) For years therapy dogs have been making the rounds at Orlando Health Cancer Center, offering companionship and a distraction from the reality of not feeling well.
“I think it’s great, I think anything that helps people through this time, anybody with cancer this is just a tough time in your life,” says patient Dave Butler.
Many who have experienced pet therapy, not only believe it gives them an emotional lift, it helps them with physical healing as well.
“The presence of pets does help to reduce stress, calm fears and anxieties,” says Dr. Mark Roh.
Pet supply retailer PetSmart believes in the program as well, and has donated $62,000 to help keep it going.
Judy Serafin, the widow of a PetSmart district manager who lost his personal battle with cancer, says he would be happy to hear of PetSmart’s involvement.
“They start to feel this love from the pets, they start to heal, on a cellular level, the patients start to heal. I know that he is smiling down and so proud,” Serafin says.
Over the years the program has expanded to 36 pet therapy teams which have made tens of thousands of visits.
Therapy animals are often confused with service animals, but they aren’t the same thing.
Service animals, for example, are protected by the american disabilities act, live with owners who have physical and emotional disabilities and assist them solely with daily living.
In contrast, therapy animals work with professionals and clients.