The Center for Human-Animal Interaction was founded in 2001 in the Department of Psychiatry at VCU School of Medicine. A $20,000 grant from the PETCO Foundation will help expand its internationally recognized Dogs on Call program.
Psychiatry Professor, Dr. Sandra Barker, explained, “We have close to 70 dogs and last year we reached 36,000 people in the medical center, which is pretty amazing.”
A recent survey of the impact of the program found a brief visit with ta therapy dog was helpful in reducing stress among health care professionals and anxiety and fear in psychiatric patients.
“We can’t meet the demand and this generous donation will allow us to recruit, to train, to orient, bring on new teams to, hopefully, be better able to meet that need,” said Barker.