UCLA's Hospital Therapy Dogs Showcased in New PBS Documentary
Newswise — Several four-legged volunteers with the People-Animal Connection (PAC) program at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and their human counterparts will star in an upcoming episode of the PBS television show, “Shelter Me: Let’s Go Home,” premiering in April.
The docu-series celebrates shelter pets with positive and uplifting stories about people's lives being improved when they adopt a shelter pet. The show followed a handful of human/dog teams with UCLA’s animal-assisted therapy PAC program as they volunteered at the hospital. All of the dogs featured were adopted from shelters and now help people by bringing comfort to patients and their families, as well as joy to the doctors and nurses.
“Our animal-assisted therapy dogs truly provide a sense of healing and comfort that no medicine can offer,” said Erin Rice, the recently appointed director of UCLA’s PAC program. “The show will help raise awareness about the real impact dogs can have on our hospitalized patients and we hope viewers will be moved by the program.”
The UCLA PAC teams highlighted in the segment include: Beth Goldfarb and Scout (German shepherd mix); Nancy Lippman and Mo (standard poodle); Erin Rice and Finn (Pyrenees/Labrador mix); Kate Riley and Bella (Chow Chow/Border Collie mix); and Lisa Wojciechowski and Penelope (Boston Chiweenie). Jack Barron, the former director of PAC, was also interviewed.
“Every year, 3-to-4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in America's shelters,” said Steven Latham, producer and director of Shelter Me. “The goal of our television program is to highlight success stories—like the animal-assisted therapy dogs at UCLA—that will inspire more people to visit the shelters and give these incredible animals a second chance.”
Locally, “Shelter Me: Let’s Go Home” will air on these PBS affiliates:
• Los Angeles, KOCE, April 3 at 12:30 p.m. and April 9 at 7 p.m. • Orange County, PBS OC, April 9 at 2 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.• San Bernardino County, KVCR, May 2 at 8 p.m.
UCLA's PAC is an animal-assisted therapy program in which trained volunteers and their dogs visit hospital patients to provide a more humane environment for patients, family and staff and to help in the patient recovery process. Started in 1994 with one canine team, PAC has grown to more than 70 teams that visit more than 40 diverse units of the hospital and more than 900 patients each month.
The PAC program is supported solely by donations. For more information on how to support the program, contact Erin Rice, director of PAC, at 310-267-8184 or visit www.uclahealth.org/PAC.