The Lort Smith Pet Therapy Program (previously known as PALS) has been running for over 30 years and is a free community service. The program coordinates visits to hospitals, aged-care facilities, disability services and other centres across Melbourne, by volunteers accompanied by their own specially assessed and approved dogs. The program’s aim is to improve the wellbeing of patients/residents through positive contact with visiting volunteers and their dogs.
In addition to providing comfort and relief to people experiencing illness, adversity and loneliness, our pet therapy teams provide stress relief, respite and support to visiting family and facility staff, who often work in very challenging environments. A hug or a moment spent connecting with an animal can act as a circuit breaker, bringing a calming effect.
At Lort Smith we believe in and promote the benefits of the human–animal bond which goes beyond companionship. This bond refers to the strong positive interaction that exists between humans and animals – the special cohesive relationship that enhances human quality of life and has the power to heal. The therapeutic benefits of the human–animal bond are well documented, and can include emotional, psychological, physical and spiritual benefits.
Not everyone can have a pet, particularly patients and residents in aged-care, hospitals, disability services and other facilities. Our pet therapy program fills that void, albeit temporarily, by sharing the love of an animal.
Watch our pet therapy video and see the impact it has on our community.