Farmington Hills veterinary center donates funds to benefit Beaumont pet therapy program

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published February 6, 2018

 From the left, Dr. Nancy Gray, vice president of development for Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills; John Verburg, practice manager for the Farmington Hills-based Advanced Veterinary Medical Center; and Terry Seraceno, a former nursing staffing assistant at Beaumont, Farmington Hills, and the creator of Doctor Paws Pet Assisted Therapy, attend the check presentation Dec. 20 in the Allen Zieger, D.O., Administration and Education Center.

From the left, Dr. Nancy Gray, vice president of development for Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills; John Verburg, practice manager for the Farmington Hills-based Advanced Veterinary Medical Center; and Terry Seraceno, a former nursing staffing assistant at Beaumont, Farmington Hills, and the creator of Doctor Paws Pet Assisted Therapy, attend the check presentation Dec. 20 in the Allen Zieger, D.O., Administration and Education Center.

Photo by Don Cohen, provided by Jill Bernard

FARMINGTON HILLS — Behind every volunteer therapy dog that brings smiles to hospital patients in need of cheering up is a mindful donor helping fund those visits.

John Verburg, practice manager for the Farmington Hills-based Advanced Veterinary Medical Center, is one such person. He donated $1,500 from the center in December to the Children’s Miracle Network to support pet therapy at Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills.  

“Our goal is the health of our pets, but also to be a part of the community,” Verburg said in a press release. “We’ve all been affected by cancer in some way, and we just really want to get the word out to as many people as possible about our efforts so that our donation to Beaumont can make a significant impact.”

Advanced Veterinary Medical Center donated 2 percent of its gross sales to the Children’s Miracle Network to benefit Doctor Paws Pet Assisted Therapy at Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills, in October and November last year, according to a press release.

Verburg presented a ceremonial check to Dr. Nancy Gray, vice president of development for Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills, Dec. 20, according to the release.

Gray said during a phone interview recently that Verburg had corresponded with her in July about the idea.

“After John and I were able to talk a little bit more, they were able to decide that they wanted the funds to go to the Children’s Miracle Network Pet Therapy piece, which is a great fit,” Gray said, adding that the volunteer-run pet therapy program relies on donations; each pet therapy session with trained dogs costs $50.

“It helps cover the cost of the session … if we get philanthropic funds,” Gray said, adding that patients are never billed for pet therapy sessions. “They bring the pets in to visit patients, and they only get as close as the patients want.” 

Gray added that a lot of patients don’t mind being up close and personal with dogs. 

“It brings a lot of smiles, and research shows that it brings a lot of benefits for patients,” she said.

According to Gray, such benefits include lowering blood pressure, improving cardiovascular health and reducing overall physical pain.

“Even just the act of petting with these kids ... the laughter — what it does for them,” she said of patients’ experiences.

Gray added that the dogs are like regular two-legged volunteers.

“The dogs have a volunteer badge on. Everybody knows that dog is there as a volunteer,” she said.

Terry Seraceno, a former nursing staffing assistant at Beaumont Hospital, Farmington Hills, is the creator of Doctor Paws Pet Assisted Therapy and was also at the check presentation in December, according to a press release. Seraceno is in charge of a large database of certified pet therapy dogs that are available at numerous sites throughout southeastern Michigan, the release states.

“This is a great example of a community partnership in which two organizations share a love of pets, a passion for healing and have volunteers who play a significant role in making a positive difference,” Gray said in the release. “We appreciate their generosity.”

For more information on the pet therapy dogs program, visit drpaws.org.