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Faithful Paws – STORY:
Houston’s Park Plaza Hospital is opening its doors to an unlikely group of visitors. The four-legged creatures, on a mission of mercy, help physical therapy patients.
Connie Richards / Founder, Faithful Paws: “Animals breathe in the adrenaline that you breathe out and they can tell exactly what is going on in your body.”
United Methodist Connie Richards founded “Faithful Paws” in 1997. Church members, along with volunteers, have trained 75 dogs, cats and one rabbit.
Patient Art Hajecate says pet therapy takes his mind off his own problems.
Art Hejecate / Patient: “You get to chunking the thing at the dog, you kind of get engrossed in that and you forget about your sorry self standing up there, you know, and you stand a little longer.”
Although scientifically proven to reduce stress rate, doctors argue pet therapy offers something far more important.
Dr. Remberto Rangel / Park Plaza Hospital: “I look at pet therapy as another form of stimulation of the rehabilitation patients, which most of the time are stimulation-deprived when they come.”
Connie insists patients who will not walk for a nurse will sometimes walk for a dog.
Connie Richards: “You see people smiling and enjoying physical therapy, whereas before it might be a chore.”
And Thumper the rabbit welcomes the loving brush strokes that help with arm mobility.
Dr. Remberto Rangel: “It can be a moving experience.”
All in a dog’s day of work.
Faithful Paws – TAG:
All dogs must pass a canine good citizen test to be certified for the program. Cats, rabbits and birds must pass a temperament test.