New UNF, Nemours Animal Therapy Program Certifies First Students

Animals working in the pediatric health program include Gypsy, a miniature horse, and Asher, a Great Dane.

The University of North Florida and Nemours children’s health system certified its first-ever students Friday in an animal therapy program called Assisted Dog and Pony Therapy (ADAPT).

The pilot program will use miniature horses and dogs to help kids heal from physical and emotional illness or injuries.

“Everyone who is doing this program with animal assisted therapies, they are licensed providers, either psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychologists that are working, so they are our partners, co-therapists as we’re doing this,” said Jenny Pfieffer, the program’s nurse manager.

UNF’s Dr. Carlene Taylor trained six students to work with animals. The students then teached  patients how to interact with the animals and read their body language.

“It’s much like human welfare is necessary in healthcare. When you pair an animal with it, the animal welfare is an important part as well, so taking care of the provider and the provider taking care of the animal makes for a healthier healthcare team.”

Michelle Corum can be reached at, 904-358-6308 or on Twitter at @MCorumonME.

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