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Therapy Dogs Helping Patients Get Through Cancer Treatments

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – At just 4-years-old, Zoey Vasquez has a form of kidney cancer and just started chemotherapy at the UC Davis Medical Center.

At her side is Angus, a special dog who is part of a study on the benefits of pet therapy.

“The kids who get the dogs, they love them, they’re happy … And Angus is such a happy dog,” said Melinda Beckham, a charge nurse for UC Davis Pediatrics.

Nurses get to see how the dogs affect their young patients while at the hospital – but Zoey’s mom sees Angus’ positive effects way before the treatment is underway.

“She didn’t want to come in because she thought he wasn’t here.  She said, ‘I don’t want to go in if angus isn’t here,’” said Corina Vasquez, Zoey’s mother.

“He makes me so very happy,” Zoey said.

Zoey recently got a hair cut because nurses say her hair is going to start falling out rapidly.

“It makes her feel better because she’s going through a lot right now,” Corina said.

Zoey’s mom says it’s a good distraction.

“[It’s] something to look forward to so she won’t be so sad that there’s going to be tubes going through her,” Corina said.

Doctors are hoping Angus and other therapy dogs will make a difference for Zoey.  Zoey’s mom hopes he speeds up her recovery.

“It makes her heart happy, so maybe she will get well faster. That’s what I think,” Corina said.

The UC Davis Medical Center found out about the program through the college’s vet program. They’re hoping pet therapy can be offered for all their patients.

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