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Scripps Health Celebrates Pet Therapy Volunteers

As a part of National Volunteer Week, Scripps Health celebrated its pet therapy volunteer teams with a “puppy party” at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla.

Enthusiastic volunteers and their bushy-tailed sidekicks met outside the hospital to soak in the sun and receive recognition for their hard work. The teams bring happiness to many patients throughout the year, lifting their spirits and providing emotional nurturance during difficult times.

Joe Braunwarth, a pet therapy volunteer with Scripps Health, said bringing the dogs into the hospital creates a positive environment for the patients.

“I think it really makes a difference for people who don’t have access to their pets or outside,” he said. “It’s nice to make a little difference in people’s lives.”

Scripps Health volunteer services manager Jill Corrales said volunteers work both in the hospital and offsite in hospice care, but no matter where they go the pet pairs are lifting spirits.

“The patients really do benefit. They enjoy the break in the day,” she said. “Compared to what they’re doing every day, to just have something different happen in the hospital is really beneficial.”

The program at Scripps Health has been around for more than 10 years according to Corrales, and she says the interest is only growing. Last year volunteers facilitated 1,000 animal visits for hospitalized patients.

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