Therapy Animal Program

Smiling patient with pet therapy dog, Bodie
Our Canine Therapists provide companionship and comfort for our patient population, their family members, and our MUSC Care Team Members.

Patient Animal Wellness Service

The Medical University of South Carolina has a robust Animal Assisted Activity (AAA) and Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) program. With an abundance of certified therapy dogs, MUSC’s Therapy Animal Program services all four hospitals on campus and more than 12 ambulatory clinics throughout the Lowcountry. Our therapy dogs provide AAA and AAT care to patients in cardiac, neurology, addiction, geriatrics, physical/occupational therapy, dentistry, pediatrics, and more.
Several studies have reported significant benefits for patients who participate in Patient Animal Wellness Service (PAWS). Our PAWS Teams provide comfort during their bedside visits, can reduce anxiety in hospitalized patients, and act as a catalyst in their healing process. Therapy dogs are defined as pets that volunteer with their handler in hospitals or with other organizations with a need for this service. Every dog must be tested and evaluated by a nationally accredited therapy animal organization.
Our PAWS Teams roam through all entities of the MUSC Health Campus, but can also be requested by patients, family members, administrators, and medical staff for therapy dog visits.

How Therapy Animals Help

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention most recently published that therapy animals "provide invaluable health benefits to their human companions."

Certified and registered therapy dogs not only reduce stress, depression, and blood pressure, they also improve self-esteem, increase physical mobility, provide comfort, and eradicate loneliness.

When partnered with physicians, therapists, and nurses, AAT can also help patients to reach health goals, remain positive, and keep motivated. Here at MUSC, our canine therapists specialize in tail wagging happiness. They are an excellent companion for our patients and their families when they are here.


Therapy Dog Bean and patient

Therapy Animal Visits

Volunteer therapy animal handlers visit patient’s various times every day. If you see any of our canine therapists around the hospital, please feel free to stop by and interact with them. They are here for you!
If you are a patient in one of our hospitals, feel free to request a visit. Care Team Members are more than happy to assist you.
If you are a family member and wish to request a therapy dog visit for a patient, you must:

• Check with the patient's care team member
• Contact our Therapy Animal Program Coordinator, Cathy Bennett, at 843-792-7360 or

Therapy dogs are not permitted in isolation rooms

Support our Therapy Animal Program

If you are interested in donating to support our program, please see how to Donate!


Join our Therapy Animal Program

If you are interested in becoming part of our Therapy Animal Program, see how to join our team!

Contact our Therapy Animal Program Coordinator with any questions at 843-792-7360 or