Pet therapy program launched at Rockford Memorial - WREX.com – Rockford’s News Leader

Pet therapy program launched at Rockford Memorial

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ROCKFORD (WREX) -

Patients at Rockford Memorial Hospital will now have some four-legged companions to comfort them in times of need.

RMH launched Loving Tails, a pet therapy program, on Valentine's Day. Through the program, patients can get visits from volunteer therapy dogs who provide comfort and companionship.

The program was launched by the family of Rockford Health Systems employee Mellany McDuffa after her passing from ovarian cancer. While McDuffa was in the hospital receiving treatments, Oncology nurse MaryAnn Locsmondy arranged to have McDuffa's dog Jack visit her.

"Seeing the joy on her face when we surprised her with a visit from her dog made me realize how important this program could be for all RHS patients," Locsmondy said.

McDuffa's family set up a fund through the RHS Foundation to help with some costs involved with training the dogs.

The Loving Tails program is still accepting volunteer dogs. The dogs must be certified as a therapy dog and pass a temperament exercise. All handlers must also go through the hospital's Volunteer Services Safety Training Validation Program. Funding is available to help reimburse some training expenses.

For more information on the program, call 815-971-PETS.

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