Patients at UCLA Health are offered a special kind of therapy, which does not involve needles, medicine or high-tech machines. Instead, it utilizes the healing power of animal-assisted therapy. Research has shown that this therapy can result in physiological benefits such as decreased blood pressure, as well as lower heart and respiratory rates. UCLA notes that the program is one of the most comprehensive programs in the nation. For more than two decades, the People-Animal Connection (PAC) at UCLA Health has been offering companionship and warmth to patients. Each month, PAC’s 70 human/dog volunteer teams visit more than 1,000 pediatric and adult patients.
The program is completely donation-based; thus, all of the costs associated with running the program come from the generosity of donors. To help support this valuable healing program, PAC is launching an online crowdfunding campaign. The UCLA Spark campaign will run from October 30 through December 6. The goal is to raise $25,000. “We wholeheartedly believe that visits with our animal assisted therapy teams directly contribute to patients’ healing process,” noted Erin Rice, director of the UCLA Health PAC program. She added, “We encourage everyone to check out our campaign site, watch the heartwarming video and donate to our program.”
The fundraiser will furnish support a variety of costs including training materials, education, lab testing for the dogs, as well as uniforms and keepsake photos for patients. It will also help the program realize its goal to expand so that even more patients can experience a PAC visit. Launched in 1994, the UCLA People-Animal Connection program has been a vital source of comfort for thousands of in-hospital patients. In addition, PAC is involved with other innovative programs including:
City National’s Reading is the Way Up, a reading program for pediatric patients that helps children learn to read and allows them to gain motivational and social skills through interaction with dogs.
The PetPal Program, which reunites hospitalized patients at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center with their own pets in an outdoor setting adjacent to the hospital.
The Stressbusters Program at Powell Library, which strives to provide stress-relieving dog visits with UCLA students during the crazy bustle of finals week.
Dog visits with patients and families of UCLA Health’s Operation Mend program which provides medical services to our nation’s wounded warriors.
To learn more, watch a video, and support the PAC crowdfunding campaign, click on this link.