Paws to Heal

Paws to HealOur Paws to Heal program partners with healthcare facilities in Central Indiana to allow our trained Pet Therapy teams to visit with patients, their families, and associates. Studies have shown that interacting with dogs can help lower blood pressure, heart rate, and overall stress levels. Visits with a therapy dog can provide motivation, education, and therapeutic benefits to enhance a patient’s quality of life. Focusing on the dog provides mental and physical stimulation for patients that can help them become less aware of their own pain and stress. Visits can even help to improve the relationship between a patient and caregiver because the dog helps to create an emotionally non-threatening space for communication, thus lowering resistance to intervention.

Paws to Heal at St. Vincent Ascension is a proud partner of the St. Vincent’s Healing Arts Department and is generously funded through the St. Vincent Foundation.

Paws to Heal Volunteers

Paws to Heal Therapy Teams: a therapy team, made up of a registered Paws & Think therapy dog and its handler, visits with patients, their families, and associates at various healthcare facilities. Paws to Heal therapy team volunteers must be registered as a Paws & Think pet therapy team. Each hospital and most healthcare facilities have their own additional requirements.

Paws to Heal Escorts at St. Vincent: these individuals volunteer without a dog and go with the Paws to Heal therapy team on visits with patients, their families, and associates at various St. Vincent healthcare facilities. Duties include sanitizing everyone’s hands before and after petting the dog, confirming visits are wanted, introducing the team, setting up the environment and documenting visits.

Paws to Heal Current Volunteer Needs

  • Paws to Heal Therapy Team: therapy team for Monday mornings at St. Vincent Hospital
  • Paws to Heal Escorts:  volunteer escorts for evenings and weekends at St. Vincent facilities

How to Volunteer with Paws to Heal

  • If you are interested in volunteering with your dog as a Paws to Heal Therapy Team, please visit Paws & Think’s Pet Therapy Training & Evaluations page for more information about how to become a registered therapy team.
  • To volunteer as a Therapy Team or Escort, contact our Paws to Heal Coordinator, Sandi Kammerer, at skammerer@nullpawsandthink.org to start the process.
  • Therapy Team volunteers at St. Vincent facilities will be required to pass an additional therapy team assessment.
  • Once selected for the program, all volunteers at St. Vincent facilities must complete St. Vincent’s volunteer onboarding including volunteer application, background check, bloodwork, TB testing, annual flu shot and St. Vincent volunteer orientation and training.
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