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Canine companions provide comfort to hospital patients

A whole new breed of hospital visitor is brightening the lives of patients at York Hospital with the introduction of therapy dogs.

The Pets for Therapy (PAT) charity has provided three doggy guests, Otis, Betty and Rebus, who come into the hospital once a week providing a much needed boost for both inpatients and outpatients.

Evidence has revealed that spending time with, or petting, a dog or cat increases levels of wellbeing hormones and helps to combat feelings of loneliness. Petting or playing with an animal promotes a feeling of relaxation, which can help to relieve symptoms of anxiety and reduce physical issues such as pain.

People waiting for appointments have welcomed the distraction and enjoy the unconditional love provided by the canine companions.

Helen Humphrey-Shepherd, sister for outpatients, said: “Everybody loves it when the PAT dogs come in, both patients and staff. It lifts the atmosphere and takes people’s minds off their problems for a while. The dogs are specially trained to be friendly and enjoy people stroking them. They stay on their leads at all times so people who are not so keen can avoid them if they want to.

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