Coaches, Administration Volunteer with VCU Medical Center's "Dogs On Call"


RICHMOND, Va. – From his introductory press conference VCU Director of Athletics Ed McLaughin has made it clear that he wants the VCU Athletic Department to be a part of the Richmond community.

Earlier this month, VCU’s head coaches and administration had one of many opportunities to take time and give back. The group took part in a photo shoot with the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at the VCU Medical Center. The photos will be used for an upcoming calendar to benefit the organization.

Not only did the coaches take part in the photo shoot, but they also took time to visit with therapy dogs and patients at the VCU Medical Center.

“The dogs and the staff that we got to work with were great,” said VCU Head Soccer Coach Dave Giffard (pictured, right). “It’s nice to be able to support people who volunteer their time and give of themselves to benefit the kids who are in the hospital. Certainly anytime we can take time out of our schedule to support groups that support worthy causes is something we look forward to and enjoy.”

 The Center for Human-Animal Interaction is the only organization of its kind established in a School of Medicine in the country.  This nonprofit strives to improve health and well-being through human-animal interaction. “Dogs On Call” brings community volunteers and their certified therapy dogs to visit hospitalized patients throughout the VCU Medical Center.  Research conducted by the Center For Human-Animal Interaction documents many health benefits these therapy dog visits provide to patients.  Last year, 35 these teams visited more than 3,000 hospitalized patients and their family members. 

“Hospitalization can be a scary and confusing time for children,” said Dr. Sandra Barker, Chair in Human-Animal Interaction.  “Not only are they sick or injured, but they are also away from their familiar environment and social supports. We know from our research that our therapy dogs calm and comfort patients. It means a great deal to The Center to have the support of the VCU coaches/staff, raising awareness of the benefits of therapy dog visits for hospitalized patients. Their recent visits provided children with an enjoyable distraction from their medical conditions and treatment, a time for them to talk about sports with experts they admire while they all laughed and played with the dogs. Their impact was immediately seen in a previously anxious child being taken to the operating room directly from the visit with smile on his face.”

The calendar will be available in the near future. Click here to view photos  from the shoot.