A three-year-old yellow lab named Koltan has become the first trauma dog at a B.C. hospital.
The Fraser Health Authority introduced the dog during their “Puppy Love Day” on Thursday at Surrey Memorial Hospital, as part of an event in which the B.C. Pets and Friends volunteer group brings puppies to the hospital.
As a trauma dog, Koltan provides support to patients in emergency and intensive care units, as well as to those who have suffered from relationship violence and sexual abuse.
“Koltan is extremely empathetic. He loves touch and he loves people,” said Lynn Gifford, clinical coordinator, forensic nursing, and one of Koltan’s caretakers. “I have seen him provide companionship to victims of relationship violence who benefit from this nonjudgmental form of comfort.”
His inclusion in treatment plans allows patients suffering from trauma to enjoy some quality time with the young pup and reduce stress. He can also comfort people who might be lonely or depressed while in recovery.
Studies suggest therapeutic contact with animals lowers blood pressure, reduces heart rate, improves cardiovascular health and slows breathing for those who are anxious.
Surrey Memorial Hospital is even creating a therapy dog team, hopefully ready by next spring. The goal is to have a database of different dogs so that patients can connect with the animal that gives them the best physical and emotional comfort.