Pet therapy comes to Bellefonte Behavioral Health Center


RUSSELL, Ky. — Bon Secours Kentucky Health System’s Bellefonte Behavioral Health Center has partnered with Therapy Dogs International (TDI) to offer pet therapy for the patients they serve.

The Bellefonte Behavioral Health Center, located on the Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital campus in Russell, assists patients with mental health and substance abuse issues. TDI is a volunteer organization dedicated to regulating, testing and registration of therapy dogs and their volunteer handlers for the purpose of visiting nursing homes, hospitals and wherever else therapy dogs are needed.

The newest staff member of the Bellefonte Behavioral Health Center is an Old English Sheepdog named, Digit, accompanied by handler, Teresa Huddle, which visit the center’s patients weekly.

“Digit visits with patients in the center’s senior adult psychiatric, adult psychiatric and adult dependency units. In fall of 2011 Digit became a certified therapy dog with TDI,” said Huddle. “Since that time we have over 300 visits to local nursing homes, schools, libraries, church groups, colleges and universities and the VA. Digit, age 10, has been involved in pet therapy since she was two.”

Melissa McKenzie, Bellefonte Behavioral Health Center Community Education Coordinator, said Digit has made a tremendous impact upon the patients at OLBH.

“Digit came highly recommended and she has already had a huge impact on our patients,” “Digit is the first animal we’ve used at OLBH for therapy, and she has been able to reach patients in ways that enhance the other therapies they receive at the center,” McKenzie said.

Founded in 1976 in New Jersey, TDI registers all breeds of dogs. Some dogs have pedigrees, while others have been adopted from local shelters or are rescue dogs. Approximately 25,000 dogs are registered nationwide with TDI.

For more information regarding the Bellefonte Behavioral Health Center, visit the BSKHS website at or call the OLBH CareLine at 606-833-CARE (2273).

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Submitted photo | Daily Times Dog named, “Digit” poses with staff members of Bellefonte Behavioral Health Center photo | Daily Times Dog named, “Digit” poses with staff members of Bellefonte Behavioral Health Center

By Portia Williams

[email protected]

Reach Portia Williams at 740-353-3101, ext. 1929, or on Twitter @PortiaWillPDT.

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