SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — A little horse is making a big difference at Sutter General Hospital.
It's unusual to see a miniature horse trotting down the streets of Sacramento. It's even more unusual to see one clip-clop into a hospital.
But doctors count on that surprise when patients get a little Hope.
"It provides us with a patient whose mental attitude is really open to receiving whatever comes next," said Dr. Lisa Guirguis.
Guirguis champions Sutter Health's decade-old Paws on Call pet therapy program, which until Hope came along, only included dogs and one cat.
"For me it was a little bit different," she said, "but the reception that hope's received has been unbelievable."
She says research shows animals can improve heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormone levels.
At the very least, Hope brightens the day.
Francee Graham, from rural Inyo County has been in the hospital for two weeks. She doesn't' know how long she'll be in here.
"But a miniature horse just took me right back home to animals," she said, tearing up.
Hope draws a crowd wherever she goes. Even hospital staffers can't stay away.
Hope's owners, Lisa and Ken Shaeffer, have had her for about a year.
"She is definitely a loving, kind and very gentle by nature little horse," Lisa said.
After seeing the big things little Hope can do, they'd welcome another mini horse into their stable.
"We just wanted to give back and to show people some love and some joy and literally some hope when they're feeling really bad," she said.
Donations to the program can be made to
Sutter Pet Therapy Program
Bryan Belden, Development Officer
Sutter Medical Center Foundation
2800 L St., #420
Sacramento, CA 95816
Phone: (916) 733-8586
Potential new volunteers can get in touch with pet therapy coordinator Kathy Montgomery at MontgoK2(at)sutterhealth.org
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