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    Pet Therapy
    Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento

    Research has shown that interacting with animals can have a profound effect on a person’s blood pressure, heart rate and overall well-being. This effect is often more profound than relaxation training or meditation. Interaction with pets has also been shown to improve survival after a heart attack.

    Paws on Call is a group of community volunteers who bring their trained dogs to visit patients and their loved ones, in and around the hospital. This service is made possible by the generosity of volunteers and the SMCS Foundation.

    SMCS Paws On-Call is looking for quality therapy dog Teams to join the program; with the handler being just as important as the dog!

    Typical ‘Attributes of a Great Therapy Animal’:

    • Is comfortable being crowded by a group of people, any kind of stranger
    • People-oriented/sociable, friendly and confident
    • Will initiate contact, stay engaged, make eye contact, enjoy themselves
    • Is able to cope with somewhat stressful situations
    • Knows how to respect personal boundaries; doesn’t jump up on people
    • Is non-aggressive towards animals and people
    • Is comfortable being touched, maybe sometimes awkwardly
    • Is controllable, predictable and reliable
    • Well-mannered with other animals/dogs …under control around them
    • Reliability despite distractions
    • Able to ignore a food crumb, or toys on cue, i.e. with a “leave it” command, for example
    • Comfort level around health care equipment

    Typical ‘Attributes of a Great Handler’:

    • Is friendly – makes eye contact, smiles, etc –able to talk with total strangers
    • Is a proactive advocate for their animal
    • Is a considerate and caring leader of their dog, fully acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses of their dog
    • Develops a relationship with their animal that reflects a loving partnership
    • Prepares themselves and their animal for each visit
    • Assesses a visit before, during and after
    • Knows how to enhance their animal’s abilities to be its best with the people it’s visiting
    • The handler is aware of signs of animal stress, behaviors, and positions, and can reassure their animal with cues, or commands (as needed) to help the animal be successful.

    To be considered for Sutter’s Paws On-Call participation, each Team must be registered through a national Pet Therapy organization, Pet Partners. An online course is taken, then licensed Evaluators via Sutter Health will conduct the formal Pet Partner Evaluation for you. More information on Pet Partners. However, before proceeding, contact with our Pet Therapy Coordinator is required, to further discuss the aspects of both Pet Partners and Sutter’s Paws On-Call

    If you and your pet are interested in becoming volunteers with the Paws on Call program at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento, please call SMCS Volunteer Services.

    Paws On-Call Video Features

    Paws On-Call with Hope the Miniature Horse | Sacramento BeeOpens new window
    Paws On-Call segment from documentary "Healing Beyond Medicine" | KVIEOpens new window