Singing River Health System offers Pet Assisted Wellness Services in specific departments throughout the health system. These pets are specially trained and offer a unique therapy service. Some frequently asked questions have been answered below.
What is PAWS?
Pet Assisted Wellness Services (PAWS) is an animal-assisted therapy service in which specially-trained dogs, cats, or rabbits are used to improve the wellbeing of a patient. Research shows that interactions between humans and animals have positive psychological and physiological benefits for hospitalized patients. A visit from a therapy animal can be a good distraction from a patient’s illness or pain, and encourages activity.
How Are PAWS Pets Different?
PAWS only utilizes animals certified by Therapy Dogs International or The Delta Society, two professional organizations committed to making sure therapy animals are properly trained and cared for. All animals must undergo extensive training and behavior testing before they are approved for service. The therapy animals are accompanied by a certified handler who has also been trained extensively and approved by Singing River Health System. Only PAWS certified pets and certified service animals are allowed inside the hospital.
PAWS Pet Visits
PAWS pet visits are coordinated by the Patient Care Team on your floor and based upon the availability of the volunteer handler/pet team. Please let your nurse know if you are interested in a pet visit. A signed release from the patient (or parent/guardian for children) is required, along with the consent of your physician. PAWS visits are subject to availability of handlers and may be limited.
PAWS is a free service provided to patients of Singing River Hospital and Ocean Springs Hospital.
The first step in joining the PAWS program is to secure certification through Therapy Dogs International – 973-252-9800 – or Delta Society – 425-679-5500. Then, call our Volunteer Services Department at 228-809-5000 to learn more about how you can help.