PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Ascension Sacred Heart Bay now has a new member walking their halls to provide therapy to patients and employees.

What makes them so special? The therapy provider has 4-legs.

On Friday, the 7-year-old labradoodle, Maggie, met her first patients and makes Panama City history as the first certified therapy dog.

Volunteer services manager Michelle Moore expressed the need for a local chapter to certify therapy dogs in Panama City. In July 2022, a local chapter was added to the area and the hospital received approval.

Ascension Sacred heart employee, Christine Macejka, began the 8-week process of training Maggie in October. Now, Maggie opens the door for other dogs to become certified as therapy dogs.

Patients took to her almost immediately. Maggie also seemed to know just what patients needed.

Moore explained why she believes the volunteer dog therapy program is so important.

“Every day is stressful, everybody has stresses in their life,” Moore said. “So just to bring some joy, some encouragement, and, who doesn’t feel better petting a dog?”

Macejka shared how she believes Maggie will impact patients.

“I think patients will be able to relate,” Macejka said. “When the patient’s family visits, they’ll have something to talk about.”

Moore said anyone wanting more information, contact this number: (850)804-6029