Animals aid in children's therapy at Huntsville Hospital

Marketa's day was brightened when Jules showed up.
Marketa's day was brightened when Jules showed up.

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Three little words, "I like dogs," explains the smile and relief from Marketa Russell.

A hospital can be a very scary place to a child. This 6-year-old is in the hospital dealing with some sugar problems.

Her visitor, 11-and-a-half-year-old Jules is an old hand at dishing out his own brand of sugar.

Marketa's Dad, Marcus Russell, was impressed.

"I think it's a very fabulous thing that they're bringing this wonderful dog in and helping to raise the spirits of these kids who are in here for various reasons. It's a wonderful idea," he said.

That idea is Therapy Partners, Inc. The animals are literally medicinal "tools."

Dogs like Jules are shown to diminish pain, reduce stress and anxiety, provide stimulus, and more.

In order for a dog to qualify for this program, they have to meet a list of criteria. They have to have a good personality. They also have to be more than willing to have people pet them and love all over them. Jules meets those criteria.

Margie McWiesman is the director of handlers and said they have great feedback from doctors and nurses.

"We've had great cooperation with Huntsville Hospital and Crestwood Hospital for bringing animals in. We also go into ICU units. We go into units where there are very seriously injured and sick children," said McWiesman.

The group isn't limited to dogs. They have 27 teams with dog, cats, and even a rabbit.

Marketa's day was brightened when Jules showed up. She said the cavalier king charges spaniel helps her feel better.

"She's soft and cuddly," said Marketa.

And that can be very good medicine, indeed.

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