Dogs on Call receives grant

The Petco Foundation recently awarded a $20,000 grant to Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine’s Center for Human-Animal Interaction in support of the Make It Real Campaign for VCU. The grant will enable the expansion of Dogs on Call, a VCU Health program that brings community volunteers and their certified therapy dogs to visit hospitalized patients, visitors, students and staff at VCU Medical Center.

“The Petco Foundation grant will enable us to build our Dogs on Call team capacity to provide comfort to hundreds more patients, visitors, families and staff at VCU Medical Center,” says Sandra Barker, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and the Bill Balaban Chair in Human-Animal Interaction at VCU School of Medicine.

Established at the VCU School of Medicine in 2001 and housed in the Department of Psychiatry, the Center for Human-Animal Interaction serves as a hub for interdisciplinary research, service and educational activities related to the human-animal relationship.

The center has received widespread coverage from international media outlets for its published academic journal articles documenting scientific evidence of reduced stress among health care professionals and reduced anxiety and fear in psychiatric patients at hospitals after interactions with therapy dogs, as well as reduced stress in the workplace among people who bring their dogs to work.

A version of this article was previously published by VCU News.

To learn more about the Center for Human-Animal Interaction, contact Lynn Meyer, director of development, at (804) 827-6297 or