Dr Oz: People Animal Connection
We all love our pets, but it’s been proven that canines actually have the power to help humans heal. Dr. Oz spoke with Erin Rice, director of the People Animal Connection program at UCLA Medical Center, and learned more about how dogs are helping humans get better, faster.
There are 70 dogs and their owners currently involved in the PAC program, which is a rewarding experience for both the patients and volunteers. UCLA’s Dr. Mark Morocco called the improvements in the health of the hospital’s patients “amazing.” One mother said that her daughter, who is waiting for a heart transplant, becomes “overwhelmed with joy” at the site of her therapy dog.
Erin Rice and her dog, Finn, and volunteer Donna Perris and her dog, Tommy, explained that the idea for PAC first came from fish visiting the hospital. Patients were so happy at the site of fish, they decided to see what dogs could do!
Erin believes that dogs make great therapy animals because they offer unconditional love. Donna has witnessed the joy that Tommy’s visits bring patients, and believes that “you don’t have to be a doctor to help the healing process.”
Dr Oz: How Therapy Dogs Improve Health
With Tommy’s help, Dr. Oz explained just how beneficial therapy dogs can be. When you cuddle with a dog or cat, it increases your oxytocin levels and creates a bond of closeness. Your stress hormones, like cortisol, soon begin to plummet. In turn, this lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. So not only do pets help humans stay happy, but they healthy, too.
If you’d like to become involved in a program like PAC, Erin suggests searching online for pet therapy organizations. Your pet could have the power to help someone in need.