At the Careggi Hospital (Florence), the first Pet Therapy project has been launched in the intensive care ward. From the beginning of 2016, 10 patients have enjoyed the company of the trained dogs from the "National School of Guide Dogs" for blind people in Tuscany together with their trainers. These people have great experience in the field of pet assistance and they are able to assure a top service.
In fact, animals in hospitals can be a great support for patients, fostering their recovery. In other hospitals, pets were already allowed to come and visit their owners but a project like the one at Careggi's is the first on national scale. In particular, dogs hosted in the intensive care ward were previously trained and are always accompanied by their mentors.
As highlighted by the doctors Manuela Bonizzoli and Laura Tadini Buoninsegni, the main goal of pet therapy is the one of reducing the patient's stress for being in intensive care, along with fostering spontaneous physiotherapeutic exercises like petting. Furthermore, the presence of the dog and its constant love can also reduce the high level of anxiety typical of these patients.
A previous study at Careggi's conducted by the doctors Ginevra Fiori and Marco Matucci Cernic on patients affected by systemic sclerosis confirmed the positive effects of pet therapy. In fact, on the cases observed, chronic pain decreased, relational and psychological conditions of patients have much improved.
Only trained dogs with specific behavioural characteristics can take part in the therapy sessions, happening twice a week. Conscious or semi-conscious patients with a great passion for dogs are welcome to try the innovative therapy.