LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The pet therapy brigade took to the hallways of Christus Saint Patrick Hospital on Sunday to take part in the annual Mardi Gras parade. In its second year, rehabilitation patients along with their family members visited various hospital floors including long term acute care and medical surgical.
"I pulled up the hospital's policy and procedures. We followed it to the letter. We got more and more dogs into the program and then more patients in the program. Dogs that take part are healthy and have passed a rigorous program", says hospital therapist, Lee Wyatt. Wyatt is credited with incorporating Dr. Dogs Pet Therapy into the hospital's annual Mardi Gras parade.
Melba Faulk from Grand Lake commented on the passing parade, "I am having a good time watching ya'll".
"No matter what happens in your life, they are there for you to love. They love you, love you, love you", said patient Nancy McInnis who has become accustomed to seeing the therapy pets.
Another patient, Mabel Tezeno told KPLC that she was not aware of any Mardi Gras parade that was going to take place but was happy to see the inclusion of the "furry friends". "Oh, they are so precious", said Tezeno.
Each dog had its own story on how they became a therapy dog, but one in particular stood out - Wiley. Wiley is a graduate of the New Leash On Life Program. A program where dogs are rescued from the Calcasieu Parish Animal Shelter. They are then rehabilitated at the juvenile detention center and given obedience training.
Beth Zilbert, Humane Society Volunteer explains further, "After the obedience training, the dogs are taken to women in the Open Door Project, the former inmates from the sheriff's prison. Those women take those dogs through advance therapy dog training and those dogs are then going to be adopted to wounded warriors returning from active duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dogs will become friends to soldiers who have PTSD and other kinds of invisible wounds".
Pet Therapy coordinator, Susan Stanford says that as long as a dog has the right disposition and is given a clean bill of health from its veterinarian, that dog could become a therapy animal. For more information on how to involve your dog, contact Christus Saint Patrick Hospital and ask about Dr. Dogs Pet Therapy.