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Dignity Health Bakersfield and Marley’s Mutts Partner Unleash New Pet Therapy Program for Patients and Staff

Bakersfield, CA - May 11, 2022 – A new team of dog-tors will be making their rounds at Mercy and Memorial Hospitals, thanks to a new partnership between Dignity Health and Marley’s Mutts® Dog Rescue. Starting this month, certified therapy dogs from Marley’s Mutts community service initiative, Miracle Mutts® Therapy Dog Program, will provide comfort and support to patients, visitors, and staff at Dignity Health’s three Bakersfield hospitals.

Miracle Mutts and their human volunteers will be available to visit each hospital 7 days a week including nights. Dogs participating in the therapy dog program are trained and certified through the AKC Certified Therapy Dog Program.

Studies show that patients who receive visits from pet therapy dogs experience less stress and anxiety, feel calmer, happier, and more relaxed. Visits from canine caregivers can help lower epinephrine and norepinephrine levels and relieve feelings of isolation and loneliness. Therapy dogs are also a stress reliever for care teams who have experienced tremendous levels of anxiety, pressure, and loss during the pandemic.

“At Dignity Health, our focus goes beyond healing the body, to include our patient’s spirit and soul,” says Toni Harper, Vice President of Mercy Hospital. “Equally important is ensuring we give our caregivers all available tools to have a respite from the challenges of their workday. I have seen the extraordinary impact of having a dog present in a patient care unit to support the nurses and doctors.” Harper notes that the dogs will be available to staff when there are traumatic events in the hospital.

Marley’s Mutts was founded in 2009 by Zach Skow and focuses on saving the lives of canines residing in high-kill shelters that have been abandoned, lost, neglected, discarded, or abused. After rescue and rehabilitation, Marley’s Mutts dogs positively transform lives, either through the foster/adoption process or Marley’s Mutts community service initiatives such as the Miracle Mutts® Therapy Dog Program or Pawsitive Change® Prison Program.

“Working with Dignity Health allows us to be of service to many more folks than ever before,” states Marley’s Mutts Dog Rescue’s founder Zack Skow. “The human-animal bond can heal us and we are excited to bring our furry healers and their pawsitive energy to Dignity Health.”

Torie Beck, Miracle Mutts Coordinator, adds that the Miracle Mutts Therapy Dog Program was developed in 2012 to serve the Kern County community by training all breeds of therapy dogs to provide affection, comfort, and support to people in marginalized communities, hospitals, libraries, schools, retirement homes, homeless shelters, and victims of domestic violence and sex-trafficking. “Since then we have helped thousands of community members,” says Beck. “We are incredibly thrilled to be partnering with Dignity Health to reach even more hearts. Through our therapy dogs, now a hospital stay means not only healing our bodies but our souls through both human and canine kindness.”


About Dignity Health Bakersfield                                                                                                       

With three hospital campuses serving Bakersfield and its surrounding communities, Dignity Health provides comprehensive care—mind, body, and spirit—here at home. The hospitals feature 24/7 emergency departments, as well as a full range of award-winning and specialty services, including cardiac, orthopedic, maternity, neurological, burn, and cancer care, among others.

About Miracle Mutts® Therapy Dog Program

Miracle Mutts is a community outreach and education program with all breeds of therapy dogs trained to provide affection, comfort, and support to people in marginalized communities, hospitals, libraries, schools, retirement homes, homeless shelters, and victims of domestic violence and sex-trafficking.  The Program utilizes human volunteers and their certified therapy dogs, many of which were Marley’s Mutts® rescues.


Publish date: 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Media Contact


Violeta Trujillo

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