This story originally appeared in UCLA Today, a discontinued publication.

Four-legged hospital volunteers star in PBS reality series

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For nearly a decade, dedicated teams of therapy dogs and their human companions have brought comfort to thousands of critically ill patients at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center through UCLA’s People-Animal Connection (PAC). Five of these teams — each with a dog adopted from a shelter  — will star in an upcoming episode of the PBS television show, "Shelter Me: Let’s Go Home," premiering this month. 
 
 
The docu-series, which celebrates the impact that a shelter pet can have on people's lives, will turn the spotlight on the teams in UCLA’s animal-assisted therapy PAC program as they volunteer at the hospital to provide a more humane environment for patients, family and staff and to help in the patient recovery process. Started in 1994 with one canine team, PAC has grown to more than 70 teams that visit more than 40 diverse units of the hospital and more than 900 patients each month.
 
"Our animal-assisted therapy dogs truly provide a sense of healing and comfort that no medicine can offer," said Erin Rice, director of PAC. "The show will help raise awareness about the real impact dogs can have on our hospitalized patients. We hope viewers will be moved by the program."
 
Appearing in the show are human/dog teams Beth Goldfarb and Scout, a German shepherd mix; Nancy Lippman and Mo, a standard poodle; Erin Rice and Finn, a pyrenees/labrador mix; Kate Riley and Bella, a chow chow/border collie mix; and Lisa Wojciechowski and Penelope, a Boston chiweenie.
 
"Every year, 3 million to 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized in America's shelters," said Steven Latham, "Shelter Me" producer and director. "The goal of our television program is to highlight success stories — like the animal-assisted therapy dogs at UCLA — that will inspire more people to visit the shelters and give these incredible animals a second chance."
 
In the Los Angeles area, "Shelter Me: Let’s Go Home" will air on these PBS affiliates:
  • Los Angeles, KOCE: April 3 at 12:30 p.m., and April 9 at 7 p.m.
  • Orange County, PBS OC: April 9 at 2 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.
  • San Bernardino County, KVCR: May 2 at 8 p.m. 
For more information on PAC, visit the website
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