The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania recognizes the importance of the human-animal bond as it relates to healing. There are many benefits of animal-assisted therapy. Animals participating in the HUP's Pups program:
- Create emotional safety and accept people without qualification or judgment.
- Encourage socialization between patients, staff and visitors.
- Brighten the atmosphere, encourage laughter and incite play, decreasing a patient's feelings of isolation and fear.
- Provide entertainment, fun and help relieve the stress of hospitalization.
Research has shown that patient interaction with animals also offers physiological benefits including decreased heart rate and blood pressure.
All animal volunteers at Penn Medicine and their handlers are certified by professional pet therapy organizations, including the Delta Society and Therapy Dogs International. Animal volunteers are evaluated by Penn Veterinary Medicine and earn a Penn Vet letter of recommendation before engaging in patient therapy. All animal volunteers are re-evaluated by Penn Vet every six months.
For more information about scheduling pet therapy or becoming a HUP's Pups volunteer, call 800-789-PENN (7366).