Los Angeles — Promises Treatment Centers in Malibu is creating a dog-friendly residential treatment environment at their Cool Oak house. Clients choosing to stay in a private room or suite at Cool Oak with their dog will be provided with a dog bed and toys.
The center recognizes that many dog owners are reluctant to leave home to enter residential treatment without their pets, and animal companions have been known to play a vital role in the healing process,
According to Dr. Shari Corbitt, Vice President of Promises Treatment Centers, the presence of dogs in treatment provides a chance for some individuals to begin to experience empathy—and demonstrate care and service for another being, which cultivates positive feelings of self-worth.
“Everything from anxiety and depression to high blood pressure can be ameliorated to some degree by a pet’s unconditional, loving companionship,” Corbitt said.
A study by the University of Cambridge Department of Veterinary Medicine found that people reported a significant reduction in minor health problems during the first month of pet ownership. In dog owners, this effect remained for up to 10 months.
The study also found that dog owners got more physical exercise (from walking their pets) than those without pets. Physical exercise is an important component of recovery, as exercise helps alleviate stress and releases “feel-good” endorphins. This and other research suggests that pet ownership has potentially long-term positive effects on both psychological and physical health.
In recovery, especially in the early stages of treatment, it’s very important for clients to feel comfortable, safe, and as stress-free as possible. For many people, the idea of leaving a pet behind can be extremely stressful and can raise anxiety levels, which are already high during detox. Allowing clients to bring their dogs to treatment lessens this anxiety and helps pet-owning clients feel more willing to enter treatment.
“The responsibility that comes with daily pet care constitutes a beginning step for many clients toward regaining their sense of maturity in the world,” Corbitt said. “Pet ownership can serve as a wonderful beginning to experience the rewards of re-establishing a caring relationship with one’s pet. For some, this is a very important hallmark of the return to healthy living.”
Although there are no weight restrictions for dogs at Promises, there are some breed restrictions, including American Pit Bull Terriers, Rottweilers, Chow Chows, and Akitas.
Dogs with a history of attacks or biting, or those that have been trained for security purposes, are also restricted. Each dog will be assessed prior to admission for applicable issues, such as aggression towards other dogs or people. Dog-owning clients will be required to show proof of required vaccinations before admission.
“At Promises, our goal is to ensure that clients are as happy, healthy, and comfortable as possible, and allowing clients to bring their dogs to treatment is just one new way for us to help attain this goal.” Corbitt said. “Many people wouldn’t come to treatment if they weren’t able to bring their dog, so this change could save many people’s lives.”