Saturday June 24th 2017

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Pets As Therapy

For the last 28 years Pets As Therapy has been bringing comfort, companionship and therapy into the lives of thousands of patients.

Pets As Therapy was started in 1983 when it became apparent that many people, on moving into residential homes or long stay hospitals, where they could not take their own companion dogs, became distressed and unhappy.

To be giving up your own home at a time in your life when you are feeling most vulnerable was bad enough but to lose contact totally with animals was almost too much to bear for some people.  Several volunteers at that time decided to try visiting these people with clean, well behaved dogs and it was found that they were happier, they communicated more and their general health improved, and so Pets As Therapy was formed.

Over the years the registered charity Pets As Therapy has proved so beneficial that P.A.T. dogs and now P.A.T cats are welcome in hospitals, hospices, residential homes, day care centres, special needs schools  and many other establishments.  Sometimes, particularly in homes for the elderly the animals can be a lifeline.  Many patients receive few visitors, often becoming lonely and withdrawn and sometimes ceasing to communicate with other humans altogether.  It has been found that very often the animals get through this barrier when human contact has failed, helping them to live a more normal life.

Pets As Therapy has over the years extended their service and hundreds of P.A.T. dogs throughout the country are being used by Occupational Therapists to help ‘stroke’ patients by encouraging them to use their limbs and talk again.

Clinical Psychologists often request the services of Pets As Therapy to help in cases of clinical depression or with people who are anxious.  It has been found that several people were unable to participate in therapy sessions due to their high levels or generalised anxiety.  However, when a dog was taken onto the unit the anxious individuals became calm and much more able to relax.

As well as in adult wards in hospitals, P.A.T. dogs have been found to be extremely beneficial on the children’s wards.    P.A.T. dogs  take the children’s minds off problems and illnesses, keeping them amused and calm whilst  waiting to go for treatment and operations and they generally make the children feel more at home.

Since 1986 many P.A.T. dogs have been used to help phobic patients.  It is almost impossible for people who derive so much pleasure from dogs to comprehend what it is like to be so afraid of them that to see one would send them running into a busy road and avoiding all contact, at any cost.

Pets As Therapy were responsible for the structured desensitisation programme now used widely by Clinical Psychologists dealing with animal phobias. Particularly in children, these phobias can be very debilitating and if left untreated can lead to children being unable to go into a park or even walk to school because of their fears.  Happily many children are now leading a perfectly normal life that would have been impossible without the help of Pets As Therapy.

Therefore it would seem that P.A.T. Dogs and P.A.T. Cats give all round benefits.  Firstly and very obviously to the patients, then to the staff as it is far easier to look after people who are happy and relaxed, plus the stress levels of the staff are also being relieved.  The volunteers benefit as they enjoy taking their dogs to places where they are appreciated and lastly, the dogs and cats themselves benefit as they enjoy making new friends and being the centre of attention.

Pets As Therapy also run a Junior Club for young people who may be interested in learning about and supporting the Charity.

All registered P.A.T. dogs and P.A.T. Cats undergo careful temperament assessments and must be fully wormed, vaccinated for health etc. Plus two references are also required from each prospective volunteer.  Pets As Therapy train their own temperament assessors and at present over 380 registered trained assessors are working voluntarily  throughout the U.K.

Pets As Therapy makes no charge whatsoever for the services provided to

approximately 9,000 establishments regularly receiving  visits from a Pets As Therapy volunteer and it has recently been estimated that over 150,000 patients benefit every single week here in the U.K. from the work of Pets As Therapy, who receive no government funding and manage a significant workload with a minimum of staff.  It is wonderful to know that at present some 5,000 registered P.A.T. Dogs and 108 P.A.T. Cats are bringing so many benefits to so many people in the community.

If you have a dog with a wonderful temperament and have at least an hour to spare per week, why not consider volunteering with Pets As Therapy.  Size and breed is of no consequence, it is the temperament of the dog that is of vital importance.

For further details or to make a donation please contact Pets As Therapy on 01844-345445 or at

Pets As Therapy Registration Office, 14a High Street, Wendover, Aylesbury, Bucks, HP22 6EA or visit the  Web  site  www.petsastherapy.org where you can also see a short film about the work of the Charity .

By Maureen Hennis– Chief Executive

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