Patients love pets

Regional animal therapy group celebrates 25 years this weekend

Sadey Guy is pictured here with Toby

SIDNEY — Twenty-five years ago, Sadey Guy, a retired nurse, founded the Pacific Animal Therapy Society (P.A.T.S.). A quarter century later, the program is still going strong.

Sadey Guy, founder and leader of P.A.T.S., grew up in a healthcare facility run by her parents in England, where she noticed the wonderful effect of animals on the patients.

When she retired from nursing, she created the foundation for P.A.T.S. by researching information about pet therapy, gathering a small group of volunteers, asking veterinarians to do testing, contacting facilities to visit, setting up the paperwork and recruiting new members with their pets.

Sadey, who is now in her 80s, is totally devoted to her mission.

She still manages the office, answering phone calls, mail, faxes and emails.

She interviews and does orientation with new members and their pets, co-ordinates facilities and their visitors, does P.A.T.S. visits with her own Yorkshire terrier, Emma, and attends P.A.T.S. group visits and functions.

P.A.T.S. volunteers and pets bring joy to people as they visit seniors’ residences, care facilities, schools and day-cares. There are many benefits of pet therapy, including lowered blood pressure, increased movement and speech, revival of memories and general feelings of wellness.

Pets — mainly dogs — but also cats and even llamas, miniature horses, rabbits, guinea pigs and even hedgehogs, are tested for their gentleness and suitability to be a therapy pet. Great appreciation goes out to the Veterinarians who perform this testing, some over the full 25 years of P.A.T.S’ operation.

As well as visiting with pets, Pacific Animal Therapy Society runs two other valued programs. P.A.T. S. offers a Pet Loss Line, where trained volunteers provide sympathetic understanding and P.A.T.S. Paws and Tales program visit children in schools, (reading skills are encouraged when a child reads to a dog, who quietly listens in a totally non-judgmental way.)

P.A.T.S. has grown incredibly over 25 years and now has over 450 members that visit over 140 facilities in and around Victoria. Up Island there are branches in Qualicum, Port Alberni and Campbell River.

A 25th anniversary celebration of Sadey Guy and P.A.T.S. will take place this Sunday, April 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. at Mary’s Bleue Moon Café (9535 Canora Rd.) All present and former members of P.A.T.S. are welcome to come. Call 250-656-6895 for more information.

— With files from P.A.T.S