OSF HealthCare St. Mary Medical Center offers animal-assisted therapy to our patients because we believe in treating their emotional, as well as their physical needs.
Pet-assisted therapy uses highly trained animals and handlers to help patients achieve physical, social, cognitive and emotional goals. Specially trained therapy dogs and their owners will, on request, visit the hospital to bring bedside comfort to medically qualified patients, family members and Mission Partners.
Pet therapy has been found to have several benefits for children and adults. Pet therapy can:
- Reduce stress, anxiety, pain and blood pressure
- Increase social interaction and communication
- Release hormones that improve the mood
- Increase motivation
- Ease grief and tension
- Provide comfort for children and adults in the hospital, especially for those separated from their pet
How It Works
A dog/handler team will visit the bedside of medically qualified patients.
Meet Our Dogs
Meet our certified pet-assisted therapy dogs at OSF HealthCare St. Mary Medical Center.
Interested in becoming part of our Pet-Assisted Therapy Program?
Basic Qualifying Requirements:
- Handlers must be 18 years or older.
- Dog handlers follow the same requirements as an adult volunteer. You will need to complete an online application, a background check, an online orientation/test, and submit immunization records (MMR, Varicella (Chickenpox), Tdap, flu and fully vaccinated for COVID-19).
- Dogs must consistently perform the following with one command.
- Sit on command
- Down on command
- Stay and recall on command
- Dogs must walk loosely on a leash without pulling, even when excited or in a new environment
- Dogs must get along well with other dogs
- Dogs must be able to perform commands without treats
- Dogs must be currently certified by Alliance of Therapy Dogs .
Therapy dogs need to:
- Like people
- Not be overly vocal
- Have no food or possession issues
- Not have separation anxiety issues
- Be at least one year of age
- Be up to date on all vaccinations
- Be free of all skin problems
- Have year around flea, tick, and heartworm protection
* Prong collars and gentle leaders are NOT acceptable.
How to Apply
If you and your dog would like to be considered for this exciting program at OSF St. Mary, please complete the Pet-Assisted Therapy volunteer application.
Current certification with Alliance of Therapy Dogs is required PRIOR to applying.
Please contact us with any questions at (309) 344-9449.