Singing River Health System offers Pet Assisted Wellness Services (PAWS) in specific areas throughout the Health System. These therapy dogs are specially trained and offer a unique therapy service.
PAWS is an animal-assisted therapy service in which specially-trained dogs are used to improve the well-being of a patient. Research shows that interactions between humans and animals have positive psychological and physiological benefits for hospitalized patients. A visit from a therapy dog can be a good distraction from a patient’s illness or pain, and encourages activity.
PAWS is a free service provided by local volunteers to patients at Singing River’s hospitals.
PAWS only utilizes therapy dogs registered by Pet Partners or Therapy Dogs International, two professional organizations committed to making sure therapy animals are properly trained and cared for. All therapy dogs must undergo extensive training and behavior testing before they are approved for service.
The therapy dogs are accompanied by a registered handler who has also been trained extensively and approved by Singing River Health System. Only service dogs and PAWS registered therapy dogs are allowed inside the hospital.
Visit with a PAWS Pet
PAWS pet visits are coordinated by the Patient Care Team on your floor and based upon the availability of the volunteer handler/therapy dog team.
Please let your nurse know if you are interested in a therapy dog visit. A signed release from the patient (or parent/guardian for children) is required, along with the consent of your physician. PAWS visits are subject to availability of handlers and may be limited.
Interested in Volunteering with Your Dog?
The first step in joining the PAWS program is to secure registration through one of the following certification programs:
Then, call Compliance Services at (228) 809-6007 to learn more about how you can help.