Trained dogs visit COVID-19 vax clinic to distract anxious people from needles

OTTAWA – Therapy dogs are being brought to COVID-19 vaccination rooms to help people – including children – worried about vaccinations.

At some facilities in Saskatchewan, Quebec, and British Columbia, children and adults who are afraid of needles or are worried about receiving a shot that protects against COVID-19 can sit next to a dog and pet them to reduce anxiety.

At some vaccination clinics in Quebec, dogs have been trained to sit on people’s laps or lie down next to them.

Therapists say dogs have a profoundly calming effect on people, and in Quebec some have suppressed the acute fear of needles caused by fainting in clinics.

Colleen Dell, an expert in canine therapy at the University of Saskatchewan, took her trained dog Anna-Belle to clinics in Saskatoon and studied the effects.

She said the white bulldog sat on a chair next to people being vaccinated and significantly reduced anxiety.

Animal therapists say they are now considering putting dogs in schools as the trend of vaccinating children between the ages of five and 11 continues to increase across Canada.

This Canadian Press report was first published on November 28, 2021.


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