Richland Nurse Uses Therapy Dog to Treat Patients - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Richland Nurse Uses Therapy Dog to Treat Patients

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RICHLAND, Wash. - A local nurse practitioner in Richland is using a new method of therapy when it comes to treating his patients. This method however, has four legs and a tail.

John Evans, A.R.N.P., specializes in psychopharmacology and chronic pain at Internal Medicine Associates, but his co-worker, Gracie, might fetch your attention -- she's a therapy dog. 

Medical research suggests dogs can be an effective method of treatment when it comes to physical and mental therapy, and you can see it for yourself.

"Our mission," Evans says, "is to help all under served populations, that's what we do, and Gracie's a big part of that."

She's less than one year old, but she makes daily rounds at the office. As soon as you meet her, you'll know she can make anyone smile, but she does more than that. Evans says Gracie comforts patients, and serves as a helpful distraction.

"She's very good with anyone with trauma," he says, "Autistic children, Bipolar disorder, and just helps stabilize the mood while they're in here, dealing with the issues we have to deal with."

Since they started working with Gracie, Evans says all of his patients have improved. "Chronic pain patients," he explained, "they'll be complaining if I move this way it hurts too much, but she'll be in and they'll become very flexible and be able to pet her, so it allows them to participate in the physical therapy as well."

But no matter how, she's making a difference.

"It's remarkable," Evans describes, "she knows she's at work and she knows she's here to help. And she does."