Fraser Health introduces first hospital ‘trauma dog’ in B.C.

Therapy dogs can help patients reduce stress and comfort them if they are lonely or depressed

Fraser Health wants to bring some puppy love to Surrey Memorial Hospital.

On Thursday, Oct. 12, Koltan was introduced by Fraser Health during their ‘Puppy Love Day,’ which is a day where the B.C. Pets and Friends volunteer organization brings puppies to the hospital to interact with employees.

Koltan, a three-year-old yellow lab, is the first trauma dog in a B.C. hospital, according to Fraser Health.

As a trauma dog, Koltan provides support to patients in emergency and intensive care units. He also offers support to those who have suffered from relationship violence and sexual abuse.

“Interacting with dogs can improve patient outcomes by creating a therapeutic and healing environment,” said Fraser Health president and CEO, Michael Marchbank.

SEE ALSO: Mac the therapy dog gives comfort to wildfire evacuees

Koltan’s inclusion in treatment plans allows patients suffering from trauma to enjoy some quality time with the young canine. Patients engage in therapeutic contact with him in order to reduce stress.

Studies have shown that therapeutic contact with animals lowers blood pressure, reduces heart rate, improves cardiovascular health and slows breathing for those who are anxious.

Therapy dogs like Koltan can also comfort people who might be lonely or depressed while in recovery.

“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.”

Fraser Health doesn’t want Koltan to be a lone ranger for dog therapy.

That’s why Surrey Memorial Hospital is creating a therapy dog team. The goal is to have a database of different dogs so that patients can connect with the dog that gives them the best physical and emotional comfort.

Fraser Health hopes to have the program operational by spring of 2018.

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