Pups on the Plaza fundraiser set this week for VCU Center for Human-Animal Interaction

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Therapy dogs from the Virginia Commonwealth University Dogs on Call program will shake paws and pose for photos at the Pups on the Plaza fundraising event on Sept. 29.

Members of the community and local media are invited to enjoy a $3 lunch in the Egyptian Building Courtyard, 1223 E. Marshall St., where therapy dogs will gather from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. VCU Health will provide live coverage of the event at facebook.com/vcumedical.

The event raises money for the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at VCU, a nonprofit center that oversees the Dogs on Call program. Dogs on Call teams visit with patients, health care providers and visitors in almost all areas of VCU Medical Center. They also provide evidence-based animal therapy to students and faculty at both VCU campuses.

Research at the center focuses on the health benefits of human-canine interaction. Past studies have found that therapy dog sessions reduce levels of stress-related hormones in health care staff. CHAI research has also documented that spending time with therapy dogs reduces anxiety and fear in patients hospitalized in the acute psychiatry unit.

The Dogs on Call program has 65 active therapy dog teams. Last year, more than 7,000 patients and families received visits.

Tickets can be purchased at the event, or in advance by calling 804-827-7297 or emailing chai@vcu.edu.

Media must be escorted on university property and at the hospital. Representatives from University Public Affairs will be on hand.