Animal-Assisted Therapy

Helping Patients Relax & Recover

Animals make you smile — whether you are watching a funny video or see them in person. In Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT), a Pet Partners registered handler and animal team visit you to help you relax and recover. Visits from animal friends has proven to be a great morale boost and can improve your mental and emotional well being. All of the AAT animals are trained therapy pets.

AAT can help you:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve deep breathing
  • Strengthen fine motor skills
  • Manage pain
  • Improve emotional and mental well-being
  • Boost your immune system
  • Succeed in physical therapy

Talk to one of our nurses to request AAT. For safety reasons, the AAT is restricted from visiting patients who are in insolation precautions, infectious disease precautions, have open wounds or if visits are not recommended by the health care team.

How to Volunteer

AAT services are provided by volunteers who have been registered through Pet Partners. We appreciate your desire to support our patients and request that all volunteers commit to a regular weekly schedule.

In order to volunteer as an AAT handler at our hospital, you must:

  • Register with Pet Partners, a national therapy animal organization
  • Have a dog that is at least one year old. The dog must have a calm temperament and be obedient
  • Have your dog up to date on all mandatory vaccinations
  • Complete the CentraCare Volunteer Services onboarding process

Previous experience in a health care setting is preferred but not required. If you have questions, please call Volunteer Services at 320-255-5638.