Pet therapy classes set for Feb. 7 at PetSmart


Dog owners participate in a recent pet therapy class at PetSmart.

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Pet therapy is a great way to help patients take their minds off their illnesses or injuries, and soon, area dog owners will have a chance to participate in this program.

Mountain States Health Alliance, in partnership with PetSmart, will offer Pet Therapy training classes starting Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. Classes will meet weekly for six weeks at PetSmart in Johnson City.

This program will prepare dogs for testing for Canine Good Citizen and Therapy Dogs International certification. These certifications are required to volunteer as a pet therapy team for MSHA.

Dogs must be one year old to test. A current vaccination record is required, and participants must register to attend.

“We see this as just one of the ways we can provide comfort and support for our patients,” said Lisa James, RNBC, Patient-Centered Care education coordinator for Mountain States Health Alliance. The Pet Therapy program is part of MSHA’s Patient-Centered Care department.

“Recent studies have shown that a person holding or petting an animal will have a decrease in blood pressure, a release of strain and tension, and may be drawn out from loneliness and depression. The decrease in anxiety is wonderful. These dogs help take the patient’s mind off their illness,” James said.

Tuition for the class is $109. For more information, call Lisa James, RNBC, at 423-431-1678 or; Van Cooper at 423-431-6681 or; or Fran Hutchins at 423-282-5568.

About Mountain States Health Alliance

Mountain States Health Alliance, a not-for-profit health care organization based in Johnson City, Tenn., operates a family of hospitals serving a 29-county, four-state region (Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Southeastern Kentucky and Western North Carolina). MSHA offers a large tertiary hospital, several community hospitals, two critical access hospitals, rehabilitation, a children’s hospital, a behavioral health hospital, home care and hospice services as well as a comprehensive medical management corporation. Its 13,500 team members, associated physicians and volunteers are committed to its mission of bringing loving care to health care. For more information, visit

Photo cutline: Dog owners participate in a recent pet therapy class at PetSmart.

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