VCU’s Dogs on Call Visit the General Assembly

VCU’s Dogs on Call Visit the General Assembly

On any given day, you can find the Dogs on Call teams at the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center bringing patients and families comfort and cheer during difficult or painful hospital stays. Last week, they were honored for their reliable good work at the General Assembly and introduced on the Senate floor by Sen. Walter Stosch.

Several dogs and handlers also spent time with senators, house members and staff in their offices and at their desks, proving once again that dogs can make a positive difference in the workplace. Read about the VCU study here on the value of dogs in work settings.

The VCU Center for Human-Animal Interaction (CHAI) is a not-for-profit organization that operates the Dogs on Call program, an animal-assisted therapy dog program that provides more than 2,000 visits to patients and their families each year and serves as an international model for hospital-based animal-assisted therapeutic activities.

CHAI is housed within the Department of Psychiatry in the VCU School of Medicine and is the only center of its kind based at a medical school. Dogs on Call was established at the VCU School of Medicine in 2001 as a complementary therapy program for patients. The program has approximately 35 registered teams of dog owners and their therapy dogs that visit patients, families and staff throughout the hospital.

CHAI offers clinical programs, such as the Dogs On Call program, as well as pet loss support in collaboration with veterinary hospitals in Richmond area. In addition, the center has sponsored a variety of programs for community groups and grand rounds for medical faculty, residents and students to raise awareness and educate as many people as possible about the importance and health benefits of human-animal interaction.


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Therapy dog Clarke spends time with Dharaa Rathi, Senate page (left) and Susan Clarke Schaar, clerk of the Senate (right). Photo by Kelley Snowa.
Click to view slideshow. Therapy dog Clarke spends time with Dharaa Rathi, Senate page (left) and Susan Clarke Schaar, clerk of the Senate (right). Photo by Kelley Snowa.