Oscar improves healing of patients at Pullman Hospitals ‘Prescription Pets Program’

Oscar improves healing of patients at Pullman Hospitals ‘Prescription Pets Program’ »Play Video
Prescription Pets Program coordinates teams to volunteer at sites across the Palouse.
MOSCOW, ID - Pet therapy has been known to lower blood pressure, reduce stress, and speed up the recovery process for patients in hospitals.

Reporter Rachel Dubrovin explains how a Moscow resident and his Schnauzer are helping spread the word about the effective form of therapy.

"Sit down, bud," said Lee Fruits. "Sit down."

Moscow resident Lee Fruits and his dog, Oscar, have been a pet therapy team for about six years.

"He's a pretty good boy… No, I just fed you something," said Fruits. "He has a short-term memory problem. 30 seconds after I give him a goody, he's forgotten and he gets another one."

But Fruits didn't exactly choose to become a pet owner.

"We were grieving the loss of another dog," said Fruits. "And we were never going to have another dog. And one day, my wife comes roaring home from town and says, 'Come with me.'"

Fruits said before he knew it, he was at the pet store and his wife had picked out a dog.

"Anyway, we go in and she shoves this little squirmy furball in my face and says, 'Guess what!'" said Fruits.

And just like that, Oscar became the newest member of their family.

"A few months after that, my wife passed away," said Fruits. "And I was looking for something to do, and saw an article in the Reader's Digest about pet therapy."

Now, Oscar is certified by the American Kennel Club. Fruits takes him to local hospitals…

"A lot of people have dogs, and they miss their dogs when they're in the hospital for various reasons," said Fruits.

… and places like Circles of Caring Adult Day Health in Moscow.

"It provides that companionship that's missing," said Circles of Caring Adult Day Health Social Worker Sarah Rial. "Something to focus on, which is very helpful sometimes."

Fruits said it's a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

"Just walk in a room, and I'll ask them if they want a visit from a killer dog, and, 'Ya!'" said Fruits.

"We love Oscar, and he's just a good dog," said Rial.

Fruits helped create the Prescription Pets Program at Pullman Regional Hospital. He encourages pet owners that are interested in volunteering and becoming a pet therapy team to check out their website.