Lort Smith, the iconic Melbourne institution is resuming services in theirlong-running volunteer pet therapy program.

This service, which has been provided free to the community for over 30 yearsstopped during COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. The much-loved pet therapyvolunteers had to cease their visits to hospitals and aged-care facilities,and juvenile justice centres.

Lort Smith CEO, Fiona Webster said, “We are so pleased to be able to bringback our volunteers and their dogs to visit patients, residents and staff whohave been doing it pretty hard with the isolation of COVID-19.

“It’s been really tough on so many people who have been unable to havevisitors, and our pet therapy volunteers would normally be spending time on aweekly basis with staff and patients before the lockdown to provide comfortand support with their beautiful dogs,” she said.

In addition to visiting people experiencing illness, adversity and loneliness,our pet therapy teams provide stress relief, respite and support to facilitystaff, who often work in very challenging environments. A hug or a momentspent connecting with an animal can act as a circuit breaker, bringing acalming effect.

At Lort Smith we believe in and promote the benefits of the human–animal bondwhich goes beyond companionship. The bond is the strong positive interactionbetween humans and animals – a special cohesive relationship that enhanceshuman quality of life and the power to heal. Many therapeutic benefits of thehuman–animal bond are well documented, and can include emotional,psychological, physical and spiritual benefits.

Ms Webster said, “Not everyone can have a pet, particularly patients andresidents in aged-care, hospitals, and other facilities. Our pet therapyprogram fills that void, albeit temporarily, by sharing the love of ananimal.”

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