Pet Assisted Therapy: An Important Part of Healing

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By Susan Taylor, Executive Director, Actors and Others for Animals

Imagine you are in the hospital, alone and isolated, and in walks a dog, cat or rabbit eager to say hello.  All of a sudden your mood improves and you forget about your pain. Having a Pet Assisted Therapy team pay a visit is an important part of the healing process. 

It is well verified that Pet Assisted Therapy plays a vital role in facilitating recovery and normal wellness. Our ability to caress pets and their ability to touch us gives the relationship a quality of intimacy that is healing. What makes our program unique is that many of the pets have been rescued and experienced their own rehabilitation. 

Actors and Others was one of the first organizations in the area to take pet therapy teams into hospitals to lift the spirits of patients, inaugurating its program at Northridge Hospital in 1990. Our dedicated teams serve as ice-breakers and easing communication barriers.

Currently there are 26 pets and 42 committed volunteers, including a group of developmentally disabled adults, in our very popular program. They regularly visit 23 hospitals, retirement homes and senior centers, including VA hospitals. Each week, we receive additional requests for visits.

These volunteers share their time and compassion with our most vulnerable and often time forgotten neighbors. Pets, of course, unquestionably enrich the quality of our lives and provide sustenance for our minds and hearts.

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