Therapy dogs help people by providing affection, entertainment, and a special kind of acceptance that only an animal can give. A Dogs on Call Inc. or “DOC” team consists of a handler and a dog, usually the handler’s personal pet. Together they form a registered Pet Partners® Team. Pet Partners Teams are trained to work with people in a variety of situations and locations.
DOC dogs are acclimated to conditions that may occur in a medical or nursing home environment. They respond appropriately to unusual noises, smells, movement, and emotions. They are accustomed to working next to wheelchairs, walkers, IV hook-ups, oxygen machines and other equipment.
DOC subscribes to the training and evaluation standards of Pet Partners, a nationally recognized, non-profit organization whose mission is to improve human health through service and therapy animals. All Dogs on Call instructors and evaluators are licensed by Pet Partners. Pet Partners membership is a prerequisite for Dogs on Call membership. You can find out more at: www.petpartners.org.
Meriter’s dog therapy program started back in 1997 and was the first Animal-Assisted Therapy program in the state. Lynn Malayter and her Pet Partner Murphy, established the program with Meriter’s Physical Therapy department. The Meriter DOC program has now expanded to many Pet Partner teams and visits almost every hospital department.
Meriter DOC volunteers currently visit Physical Therapy, Inpatient Rehabilitation, Adult Psychiatry, the General Medical unit, Neurology, the Surgical/Orthopedic unit, the Family Care Center, the Surgical Waiting Room, the Meriter Heart and Vascular Hospital, the Digestive Health Center waiting room and the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Hospital. The Meriter DOC program pioneered another state first by visiting patients in Emergency Services.