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Pet therapy succeeding at Valley hospitals

PHOENIX — Local hospitals continue to use pet therapy to make life a little
easier for those who are sick.

It’s been shown that pets can decrease anxiety levels, blood pressure
and provide emotional support. Pet therapy has been an
effective tool in lifting the spirits of the chronically or terminally ill.

Lori LeSuerur works with pediatric patients at Maricopa Medical
Center in Phoenix. She recounts a vivid memory of a sick child
who loved dogs so much, as soon as he saw the therapy dog, he
jumped right out of bed.

“He got up on his own, out of bed, and walked to the dog. He just
wanted to walk the dog in the hallway. There was no hesitation,”
said LeSuerur.

Maricopa Medical Center has one pet therapy team, which
includes a white Yorkie terrier named Charger. His twice monthly visits are highly anticipated.

“Charger can bring a smile and a sense of comfort to a sick kid who’s
having a stressful day,” said LeSuerur.

She said there’s a need for more pet therapy teams and thatalmost any
dog can become a therapist and help the sick, injured and dying.

Therapy dogs that spend their time at Maricopa Medical Center are
typically acquired from
The Delta Society
or Therapy Dogs International.