Singing River Health System offers Pet Assisted Wellness Services in specific areas throughout the Health System. These therapy dogs 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 are used to improve the well-being 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 dog can be a good distraction from a patient’s illness or pain, and encourages activity.
How Are PAWS Pets Different?
PAWS only utilizes therapy dogs registered by Pet Partners or Therapy Dogs International, two professional organizations committed to making sure therapy animals are properly trained and cared for. All therapy dogs must undergo extensive training and behavior testing before they are approved for service. The therapy dogs are accompanied by a registered handler who has also been trained extensively and approved by Singing River Health System. Only service dogs and PAWS registered therapy dogs 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/therapy dog team. Please let your nurse know if you are interested in a therapy dog 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 by local volunteers to patients of Singing River Hospital and Ocean Springs Hospital.