In The News

Dog Helps Occupational Therapy Assistant With Patient Care

Bessy, a dog and a Certified Pet Therapist, is making patients at Simi Valley Hospital smile. Many even say Bessy is contributing to the fast recovery process of some patients.

“Bessy and I have been working as a team for more than four years. Patients really enjoy her company,” said Bonnie Schlesselman, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant and Bessy’s Owner. “We have had patients come back after being discharged from the hospital just to visit with Bessy.”

Bessy has gone through formalized assessment and training for her certification from the “Love on a Leash” Pet Training School in Oceanside, California. Bessy and Bonnie work as a team and incorporate Simi Valley Hospital patients’ therapeutic needs into actual therapy sessions.

First introduced in the early 1970s, pet therapy has become a useful part of hospital recreation therapy programs. Because patients in the hospital have various physical limitations, interacting with an animal helps them become more alert, responsive and communicative.

“For those patients that are hospitalized for an extended length of time, this therapy is really good because they miss the companship of their own pets,” said Schlesselman.

For more information about the Pet Therapy program at the hospital, please call (805) 955-6405.

Posted 9/19/01