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This is Luke, a certified pet therapy dog that helps patients in Banyan Florida rehab locations, but in reality, he is so much more than that, he is family. Luke was rescued by Anthony Acampora, National Director of Faith-Based Services & Chaplain for Banyan’s Faith in Recovery program where Luke helps patients most.
When Luke was rescued, he was skinny and in bad condition, it appeared he had been abandoned and neglected by humans in the past and Anthony wasn’t sure if Luke was ever going to fully trust him.
However, on his way home from the vet, Anthony recalls Luke letting out a sigh before inching closer to him. That is the moment Luke knew his life would forever be changed. Anthony was about to find out.
What Are The Benefits of Pet Therapy?
At Faith in Recovery, many different methods are used in the recovery process to aid in the fight against addiction and mental health issues. One holistic approach, pet therapy, helps patients in several ways. Some animal therapy benefits include:1
- Improves mood, lessens depression, and improves your outlook on life.
- Decreases loneliness and isolation by giving you a companion.
- Reduces boredom.
- Reduces anxiety because of its calming effects.
- Helps patients learn empathic and nurturing skills.
One of the most important reasons that animal therapy for addiction is beneficial is the fact that a certified therapy dog or other animal, makes it easier for the patient to open up, especially in group therapy sessions and bible studies. They are used as an additional level of support because the bond between humans and animals is so strong.
Luke is a great example of what the bond between humans and animals looks like. When someone is crying, he sits with them until they stop. He often puts his paw on their knee or head on their chest. He is playful and extremely friendly, receiving many hugs and kisses from all the patients he encounters. The love between Luke and the patients can be compared to the love from a supportive family member.
What is most spectacular about Luke is his ability to forgive humans and help them despite what he went through. If you meet him, you can’t tell he had a hard life before being rescued. He has no resentment for people and can do God’s work by helping those in need.
It’s important to finish this blog with a touching story about Luke, as told by Anthony.
A neighbor shared with me that his close friend’s son at twenty-seven years old hanged himself. His mother was the first to find him two days later. First responders said judging from the scene his pit-bull terrier never left his side. I noticed for the first time in over two years while sharing this heartbreaking story my neighbor began petting my pit-bull terrier, Luke.
Pet Therapy at Faith in Recovery
The faith-based recovery program, Faith in Recovery, at Banyan Treatment Center encourages patients to establish or restore their faith in and relationship with God while also addressing their addiction. The program integrates clinical therapies and faith-based ideas into a personalized Christian program. Pet therapy is just one of the many options specialists at Faith in Recovery utilize in PHP and residential addiction treatment. The designated therapy pets will visit at appropriate times and provide patients with the extra support they need as they struggle to maintain their sobriety.
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