KCBS Animal Update: Animal-Assisted Therapy

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A member of the San Francisco SPCA's "Wag Brigade" interacts with a passenger at San Francisco International Airport. (San Francisco SPCA via Bay City News Service)

A member of the San Francisco SPCA’s “Wag Brigade” interacts with a passenger at San Francisco International Airport. (San Francisco SPCA via Bay City News Service)

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SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— Many studies have shown that interacting with animals can help people lower their stress levels as well as other mental and even physical issues.

According to Dr. Jennifer Scarlett with the SF SPCA, the human-animal bond can be used to create company and interactions to bring that healing power to the people who need it most.

Animal-assisted therapy starts with the right animal. Generally that means an animal with a good demeanor.

“We put the dogs though a K-9 good-citizens test to make sure they’re OK in all kinds of different situations. For cats and birds we try them out with a lot of different people in situations to make sure that they’re going to be safe,” Scarlett said.

Holiday travelers at SFO International Airport may have encountered The Wag Brigade, when therapy dogs were released back in December at Terminals 2 and 3 to help alleviate passengers’ stress levels that often accompany air travel.

“It’s going great. We get a lot of positive feedback. Passengers are very happy to see a dog wag and greet them,” she said.

If you’re interested in animal-assisted therapy (AAT), you can check the SF SPCA website. It includes information on how to involve your pet in training and sign up for facilities.

(Copyright 2014 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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