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Animal Update: Therapy Animals

(KCBS) - After the recent Connecticut school shooting, a team of dogs was sent to comfort the grieving, driving home the point that therapy dogs can greatly benefit those in emotional distress.

"In conjunction with first responders and mental health professionals, therapy dogs were asked to come into the community and for some children and people, dogs can serve as a safe bridge to help people open up and begin to talk about the feelings that they're having," explained Jennifer Scarlett, DVM, co-president of the San Francisco SPCA.

Studies have shown that petting and spending time with an animal can actually have physical benefits for the human.

"Yeah, we see a decrease in our heart rate and blood pressure," confirmed Scarlett.

Animal Update: Therapy Animals

There is, of course, a training process for pets and their guardians who want to make therapy visits.

"It depends on the organization, there are many therapy groups, dog therapy groups, across the country and the Bay Area," she explained. "Usually what we do is we put dogs through a series of training courses to make sure that they pass the canine good citizen test and that they're also okay and comfortable with people in many different ages and stages in their emotional development or illnesses."

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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