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Take two belly rubs and call me in the morning.


More than 45 furry four-legged bundles of happiness visit patients at St. Luke’s facilities, thanks to their dedicated human companions. Whether a tiny Yorkie or a lovable Great Dane, visits from specially trained doggie friends provide cheer, brighten a stressful day, and help our patients, visitors, and staff relax. 

These caring human-canine teams bring comfort and diversion for adult and pediatric patients alike. Studies show that just petting a dog causes the release of hormones that ease stress and depression and lower the heart rate.

Pet therapy volunteers give more than 2,100 hours to St. Luke’s each year. They also delight kids at the annual NICU graduates picnic, Pediatric Oncology party, and Camp Rainbow Gold.

Pet Therapy Requirements

To become pet therapy volunteers, you must be at least 18 years old and your dog must be at least one year old. You also must be a registered team with Therapy Dogs, Inc. Learn more at therapydogs.com. 

Volunteers undergo extensive training, and a select few experienced dogs and handlers take on additional training that qualifies them to visit cancer patients or sit with children in our pediatric emergency department. When visiting, dogs must be clean, neat, friendly, and ready to socialize. Handlers need to be personable, engage in conversation, and monitor conditions of the visit.

Before you take any steps to become a pet therapy team, please email pettherapy@slhs.org.