Medwatch: Therapy dogs lift spirits during hospital visits

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 8:01 AM CDT|Updated: May. 2, 2022 at 8:02 AM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) -Paws with Love Therapy Dogs visit Comanche County Memorial Hospital multiple times a week to bring smiles to patients and those working at the hospital. They’re celebrated for everything they do on National Therapy Pet Day, which is April 30th.

Leann Legako, a founding member and board member of the group, said they make visits during the daytime, evenings, and even holidays because staff and patients are always there.

“We share our animals when they can’t be with their animals,” she said.

“The feeling of watching our dogs walk into a room, making them light up, making people light up, watching the smiles come over people’s faces is probably one of the best feelings that you can have because we know that our dogs are doing the work that they love the most,” said Keri Brammer, the president of Paws with Love Therapy Dogs.

Paws with Love Therapy Dogs started almost 12-years-ago with just a few members. Brammer said they now have more than 35 members. 4-year-old Sammy is one of dogs who part of the group.

“When he comes to the hospital, we usually go to the rehab areas,” Legako said. “We’ve done some targeted therapy with people. Since I’m a retired employee, we visit a lot of the office staff when we come.”

She said she has read studies about how animals can help calm people.

“Pet therapy has been shown to help with pain, blood pressure, different sort of problems like that,” she said. “That’s what kinda interested me, being a former nurse. I thought that’s kinda interesting because there’s only so much I could do for my patients, and this is just something that added to it.”

The group recently got a proclamation from the mayor for everything they do in the community.

“We are extremely proud of the work that we’ve done,” Brammer said. “When we started at the hospital, we started in one area of the hospital. Over the last 11 years, we have grown to be able to go to so many different areas of the hospital and make such a big difference with the people and the staff and the patients here.”

She said they’ve also expanded what they do in the community like go to the library to let kids read to dogs and visit nursing homes.

“And the cancer center is a huge factor as well. Because if we can make a difference in one person getting a treatment, while they’re getting treatment, that makes our day,” Brammer said.

All the dogs and handlers have gone through testing as a team to make sure they can handle any situation that may arise. If you’d like more information about becoming involved, visit their website. Pawswithlovetd.com.

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