Castlemaine Health providing pet therapy | Photos

When Sue Hopgood was being treated in Castlemaine Health for breast cancer last year, visits from her dog Sam and the dogs of her friends brightened her days.

Sadly, she passed away from her illness, but her daughter Krystal Plumridge said it made her mother “really happy” in a trying time.

Janine McCarthy, from Castlemaine Health, said the organisation was supportive of short-term visits of pets to aged care residents, as well as very ill patients.

“Those in high care who are nearing the end of their lives will often find profound comfort and peace in being reunited with a loved pet,” Ms McCarthy said.

“Castlemaine Health has helped to arrange visits in these special circumstances.

“The unconditional love that pets provide is like no other relationship we have in our lives.”

The organisation also has regularly visit as part of a pet therapy program, which has been running for some years.

“Each pet visit brings comfort, entertainment, distraction and solace,” Ms McCarthy said.

“The benefits of their company are well-established.”

She said trained volunteers participated in the program and their pets were vetted for suitability.

The training ensured volunteers were aware not all people would want contact with the pets, she said, and sensitivity was essential.

Other health organisations in the region are also tapping into the benefits of animals.