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Published on December 25, 2015

Pet therapy bringing comfort to patients

By Jenna Bourne, Action News Jax

A new pet therapy program is bringing comfort and unconditional love to patients at a health care facility in Jacksonville.

The pet therapy program is looking for new volunteers to expand to all the St. Vincent’s locations in the area.

Saint Catherine Laboure Manor's administrator said patients who have a few minutes with dogs like duke go a long way.

When St. Catherine patient Willie Davis pets Duke, he said he can’t help but think of the dog he used to have.

“I just love dogs,” said Davis.

Duke’s handler Biggs Knauer loves seeing the effect he has on people like Davis.

"I have seen it really produce miracles in people. People who haven't talked in a while will talk," said Maureen Gartland, Saint Catherine Laboure Manor's administrator. "I know that Duke can tell if someone is sad or someone is not feeling well. He just senses it."

Sarah Bartholomew lives at St. Catherine and she says Duke's unconditional makes the place feel more like the home she used to know.

"Having a dog like that, that just fills in your empty spots that you just forget about having,” Bartholomew said.

If you and your pet want to get involved in the pet therapy program, you can call 904-308-4702. Gartland said they’re not just looking for volunteers with dogs; they’re open to cats, bunnies and birds for the program as well.

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