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posted: 2/11/2013 2:22 PM

Animal therapy program seeks dogs

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Submitted by Centegra Health System

Centegra Health System's Caring Paws Program is looking for a few good dogs. Each year one million lives are touched by the comfort and healing of a therapy animal visit.

Centegra has offered animal-assisted therapy for many years and is working to increase the number of patients visited by the furry friends. The Caring Paws Program is offering an animal-assisted therapy class from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 16, at Centegra Hospital-McHenry.

Participating dogs must have basic obedience skills and love meeting new people. Upon successful completion of the two-part program, the handler and his or her dog will be eligible for national registration through the Pet Partners, a leading international resource for the human-animal bond.

Katherine Feuillan, coordinator of Animal Assisted Therapy at Centegra Health System, said studies have shown that animals can develop such strong bonds with people that the interactions between the two have proved to be a huge benefit in the healing process of patients.

"Therapy dogs are an aid in that they help to fill needs that cannot be met in other ways," Feuillan said. "They are a source of unconditional love and concentrated attention that provides relief, a stimulus for exercise and also gives much pleasure to patients."

Feuillan added that many patients are motivated to work harder toward their recovery with animal therapy because it is more fun than working solely with a human therapist.

The cost of the animal assisted therapy classes is $100. Attendance is required for participation in the evaluation. Registration and payment must be received by Wednesday, Feb. 13. For more information or to register, call (815) 759-4334.