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Pet Therapy at Lincolnshire Animal Hospital

Pet Therapy

A small group of hospital staff and the pets established The Lincolnshire Animal Hospital Pet Therapy Group (LAHPTG) over four decades ago. It was one of the first pet therapy groups in the country. LAHPTG has since grown to include more than 33 handler/dog teams. The group has also received several awards and has been recognized in newspapers, on television, and by the American Kennel Club.

Pet Therapy Overview

Also known as animal-assisted therapy, pet therapy uses dogs and other animals to help individuals heal and cope with various health and mental conditions.

In most cases, a professional handler or volunteer (likely the pet’s owner) brings the animal to meet with an assigned person or group. During the meeting, the animal and handler will operate according to instructions or goals outlined by a therapist, doctor, or other authorized individual to provide comfort, affection, and companionship through guided interaction.

There are numerous psychological benefits of pet therapy. Interacting with pets during therapy has been shown to decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have shown that pet visits can reduce loneliness and increase feelings of social support.

Pet therapy has also been shown to improve energy levels, self-esteem, and mood as well as decrease depression. Additional benefits include increased motor skills and movement, improved social skills and verbal communication, decreased boredom and a more positive outlook overall.

Our Pet Therapy Program

The Lincolnshire Animal Hospital Pet Therapy Group (LAHPTG) serves a variety of facilities supporting those in need.

Some of the groups we visit include homes for adults with special needs, schools for children experiencing anxiety, depression and other mental health issues, memory care facilities and acute rehab programs. In addition, we visit community schools to help educate children through pet therapy and we assist local government organizations in facilitating teens’ transitions from detention programs back into their communities. Our group has also been called upon to make private visits to individuals who are homebound or in hospice care.

Get Involved

LAHPTG attempts to schedule five-to-six visits each month (although times can vary based on availability). All morning and afternoon visits end by 3 p.m. Weekday evening visits begin at 6:45 p.m. and end no later than 8 p.m. While volunteers aren’t expected to attend all visits, we do require sign-up for a minimum of 10 outings each year, and we encourage participation beyond this amount by all who are interested.

To qualify, all dogs and handlers must pass a test administered by the group director that includes simple obedience tasks, tolerance of medical equipment, general friendliness, and the presence of an outgoing nature and compatibility with people and other dogs. While visiting, all handlers and their dogs will be covered by insurance.

For more information about participating in the group or utilizing our services, please contact Tina Arcomone, Therapy Pet Group Director via email at lahtherapydogs@gmail.com or call (847) 716-0572.