Dog therapy comforts patients at Naval Health Clinic Charleston

Dog therapy comforts patients at Naval Health Clinic Charleston
Updated: Feb. 28, 2017 at 5:57 PM EST
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GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - A special partnership between the Red Cross and Naval Health Clinic Charleston is offering some furry love to local patients.

Four-legged volunteers are now visiting the Naval Health clinic's halls weekly as part of the new American Red Cross Animal Visitation Program.

The therapy dog program officially launched this year and five dogs along with their handlers visit the clinic's patients each week to offer some extra TLC.

The dogs are specifically trained to work in hospital and special care settings and interact with Navy staff as well as families and veterans receiving treatment.

Commander Amy Smith, Dir. of Public Health Services at the clinic, helped jump start the program.

"You have your share of anxieties associated with medical care," Smith said, "You can just tell the moment (the dogs) come in, the response that they get. The instant satisfaction, you see it. They have an emotional tie to people. And they will find you if there's an issue. I get goosebumps because some of the volunteers have relayed to me how they knew their pet was a visitation dog."

The clinic has approximately 17,000 beneficiaries, according to Smith, while serving around five hundred patients each day at the Goose Creek facility.

"I always see a crowd around the dogs when they're here," Captain Annie Maley. "We have a base full of students that are away from home for the first time, I here it often that the dog they're petting reminds them of home. I think it brings a loving comfort to people who are far away."

"The American Red Cross, they really were the ones that made it happen," Smith said. "They were instrumental in getting it here."

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