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RSVP-Racine has been a partner with Ascension All Saints volunteers for more than 20 years. Last year nine RSVP volunteers contributed nearly 1,000 hours of service to Ascension All Saints.

Numerous volunteer positions are available at Ascension All Saints. One unique volunteer option that Ascension is actively working to develop is a pet therapy program. Cindy Clemens, Ascension’s director of Volunteer and Guest Services, is searching for volunteers with dogs that would enjoy interacting with patients and visitors at All Saints.

For a limited time, the costs associated with therapy certification for new dogs and volunteer handlers are being underwritten by the All Saints Foundation. All breeds of dogs are welcome, so long as they are at least 1 year old and have been in the volunteer’s household for at least six weeks.

Certification is accepted through several outlets including Delta Society, Pets Helping People, Therapy Dogs Inc., Therapy Dogs International Inc. and The Foundation for Pet Provided Therapy.

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Certification involves evaluation of a dog’s temperament and observation of its behavior around people using service equipment such as wheelchairs and crutches. Certification must be renewed annually; and a health record form completed and signed by a licensed veterinarian is also required annually by Ascension All Saints.

Clemens cites the Therapy Dogs International Inc. website (www.tdi-dog.org) that traces the early historical bonds that dogs and humans share; but it wasn’t until relatively recently that medical professionals have documented the positive benefits of those ties on the emotional health of humans, especially those in a health care setting.

Numerous studies have shown that a person holding or petting an animal will often experience lower blood pressure, release of tension and emerge from loneliness and depression.

As interest in therapy dogs grows, Clemens is confident that more patients served by Ascension All Saints will experience the benefits of the dog-human connection.

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