OSF Seeking Dogs/Owners for Animal Assisted Therapy Program

ROCKFORD (WIFR) – OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center is recruiting social, well-mannered, predictable dogs for its Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) program. AAT uses highly trained animals and handlers to help patients achieve specific physical, social, cognitive and emotional goals. Therapy dogs and their owners visit the hospital and bring comfort to patients, reducing stress, anxiety and blood pressure and increasing patient social interaction and communication.

How to find out if your canine companion is a good fit for the program:
Temperament testing to determine if canine candidates meet the specific requirements of the program will be held by appointment only from 8-10 a.m., 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center, 5666 E. State St., Rockford, Ill.

There is a $20 fee for testing; the fee is refunded if the dog does not pass. Dogs that pass temperament testing must attend a mandatory training program held Friday through Sunday, May 3-5, through Dog Builders and Paws 4 Therapy. Dogs that successfully complete the program will be registered with a therapy dog organization.

Requirements for therapy dogs:
• Must be at least one year old
• Demonstrate proficiency in basic obedience
• Be up-to-date on inoculations (including rabies, distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis, parvovirus, par influenza, Bordetella and corona virus)
• Must have lived with handlers for a minimum of six months
• Must be clean with no signs of fleas, ticks or dermatitis
• Have proof of annual heartworm test

Once admitted to the program, dogs need to be on flea protection year-round. Dogs with allergies will not be permitted in the program. Dog handlers must be at least 18 years old, be dependable and prompt and have good communication skills.

For more information or to sign up for temperament testing:
Contact Theresa Geraci, BSN, RN, at 815-227-2500. Applications are available at www.osfsaintanthony.org/about/animal-assisted.html.

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