Pet therapy kicks off at hospice

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Times-Journal Writer

The Wiregrass Hospice Inc. started its new “pet therapy” program for the patients at the Lighthouse Convalescent Home yesterday.

This volunteer project brings in pets to the home to keep company with the residents for a few hours in the afternoon once a month.

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Betty Hale, Volunteer Coordinator for Wiregrass Hospice said they were trying to figure out a way to get the volunteers and residents more active.

“One of our volunteers had participated in a similar program before,” said Hale. “She suggested this and we thought it was a great idea.”

The Hospice partnered with local veterinarian Dr. Frances Kendrick to chose pet dogs for the pilot project.

According to Hale, the dogs are required to have all their shots and be on a leash.

The volunteers allow Dr. Kendrick to choose the pets because of her knowledge of the animals.

The residents seemed to enjoy the company as the volunteers

led the dogs through the halls to visit various patients, some of whom don’t get regular visitors.

“This is great,” said Daisy Dudley, activity director for Lighthouse. “They really enjoy the company.”

According to, research has shown that pet therapy can assist patients in a number of ways including: reduced stress, increased social interaction, and lower blood pressure.

“They have loved it,” said Hale about the outcome of the inaugural of the program. “We are trying this out here first, but if it works we will get around to all of the homes eventually.”