Therapy Dogs Return to Franciscan Health Munster after Hiatus

Gathering for the return of the pet therapy program to Franciscan Health Munster are, from left, Maggie and her handler Becky Buchanan, Ruger and his handler Jackie LaMantia, program coordinator Julie Canady, program volunteer Patty Sopata and Rev. Francis S. Tebbe.
(Photo provided)

In Munster, Franciscan Health’s pet therapy program is back after being on hiatus due to the pandemic. Maggie, with her handlers Becky and Mike Buchanan, and Ruger, handled by Jackie LaMantia were first to arrive at Franciscan Health Munster and provide comfort to patients on March 30. Visits will continue during future Wednesdays at the hospital. All dogs participating in Franciscan Health’s pet therapy program are certified by Therapy Dogs International or Alliance of Therapy Dogs.

“The patients’ reaction was wonderful, and the staff was really excited to see us. We had nothing but smiles,” said Julie Canady, pet therapy program coordinator and administrative assistant in the Franciscan Alliance marketing department, who also participates with her therapy dog Meiko.

“Everyone enjoyed the visit – first time since March 2020 – patients, staff, dogs and their handlers,” said Rev. Francis S. Tebbe, director of mission services at Franciscan Health Dyer, Hammond and Munster.