Horizon Health Services uses Dog Therapy to help heal the community

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Pet Therapy is more than what meets the eye. These cute furry animals are hard-workers, tasked with the job of helping people in need navigate through the challenges of life.

Horizon Health Services is one organization that has made a point of making Pet Therapy an integral compenent of their treatment process. A process that helps those battling mental health issues and substance abuse regain a sense of balance and overall happiness.

Jim Prosser is a senior counselor and dad to Duke, a two-and-a-half year old Golden Retreiver who works as a a certified therapy dog at Horizon.

Like Jim, Duke works a 40 hour work week, helping clients, even employees at times  - simply with his presence.

"When you have people experiencing trauma or depression or anxiety, anything like that, seeing a therapy dog, being around an animal can really help them feel more comfortable, more relaxed," Prosser said.

Increasing studies show Pet Therapy can be helpful both from a mental health perspective and a physical health perspective.

UCLA released research showing the simple act of petting animals can: lower anxiety and help people relax, provide comfort, reduce lonliness and jumpstart the therapy process.

Doug Bellaus has been working with Jim and Duke for two months and shared that his experience, thus far with dog therapy, has been a positive one.

"He's relaxing and a stress-reducer." Doug said about his relationship with Duke, " he makes me happy.

Right now, Horizon has 8 therapy dogs that service clients with a variety of needs.

For more information on their Dog Therapy Program visit Horizon Health Services website.

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