Paws for Patients

Therapy Dogs

Paws for Patients

The first Barnabas Health Hospice Paws for Patients Volunteer Teams.
There are currently more than 25 volunteers who make more than 950 visits to patients and families per year.

Tales from Our Pack

Paws for Patients was launched in 2009 by the Barnabas Health Hospice and Palliative Care Center to further enhance its mission of caring for patients not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. It is soley funded by the generosity of its donors and relies on volunteers and their dogs to provide services to hospice patients and families. The use of therapy dogs in the health care setting has been proven to help orient patients, especially those with dementia, to the present moment. According to Laurie Berkman, Program Coordinator for Paws for Patients, “The presence of a therapy dog often prompts pleasant reminiscences which helps patients engage in therapeutic ‘life review’ which is especially beneficial at end-of life.” Studies show that animal therapy and pet therapy can decrease anxiety, reduce feelings of isolation, and even lower blood pressure in patients.

We believe that the emotional and therapeutic benefits of canine therapy in the hospice setting are immeasurable and we hope Paws for Patients will become a model program for other hospice organizations. Since 2009, our supporters have have made it possible for Paws for Patients to expand from a team of five original volunteers to 25 dedicated volunteer teams, with a regular presence in more than 10 Essex County long-term care facilities.

Interested in becoming a Paws for Patients volunteer?

Contact Laurie Berkman, Paws for Patients Program Coordinator, at 973-370-8113 or

To support Paws for Patients please go to

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