Anyone who owns a dog or other pet knows the calming effect they can have. When we pet our animal friends, stress and worry often seem to melt away. Scientific studies have now proven this to be true. Pets can lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety. In addition, petting an animal can release endorphins that have a calming effect and can enhance healing.

In keeping with our Vision of treating the whole patient — body, mind and spirit — Yavapai Regional Medical Center offers visits from specially trained therapy animals through the Pets Are Warm Support (PAWS) program. YRMC accepts dogs who are certified through Pet Partners, a national organization that evaluates and tests all animals to ensure that their health, skills and aptitude meet rigorous standards.

Visits from PAWS pets can reduce boredom, increase socialization and communication, and provide comfort, especially for those patients who are missing their own pets at home.

PAWS program volunteer Don Packard brings Sailor, his beautiful Australian Shepherd, to YRMC every Tuesday. “Of course I’m giving back, but there’s more to it than that,” says Packard, “It gives me satisfaction seeing these folks who don’t get to see dogs. It does their heart good, and it does mine too.”

Patients aren’t the only people who enjoy the therapy pets at YRMC. The staff looks forward to their regularly scheduled visits as well. “He’s a therapy dog for everybody,” says Packard, “The staff really likes him too. He’s well known. ‘It’s Tuesday and Sailor’s here!’ That’s what they say.”

You can take a preliminary quiz to see if your dog may have the right temperament to be a therapy dog at

If you’re a patient at YRMC and would like to arrange a PAWS visit, check with your caregiver first, then call Volunteer Services. In Prescott, the phone number is (928) 771-5678. In Prescott Valley, call (928) 442-8678.

YRMC Volunteer Services welcomes inquiries about volunteering for the PAWS program as well as a wide variety of other volunteer opportunities. For more information call:

Volunteer Services, YRMC West, Prescott: (928) 771-5678

Volunteer Services, YRMC East, Prescott Valley: (928) 442-8678