COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX/WTTE) - Therapy dogs are used to help lift spirits. They're used to help with anxiety and to help overcome depression.
Now, Ohio State University researchers want to use the dogs to help in the opioid crisis.
Cooper and Milo are two therapy dogs from Ohio 4-H Pet Pals that will be used in the new project.
The idea is just in the beginning stages. But researchers say since dogs already help people heal, why not use them to help with children coping with parents addicted to drugs?
"The idea is to integrate the dog into the therapy sessions," said Kelly George, the lead researcher on the new project.
"Our hope is we can help them cope with their depression, their anxiety, their stress."
Through a recently awarded OSU grant, her team will study how canine therapy can be used with children who have experienced child abuse and neglect because of parental opioid use.
"We want to make sure we're thinking about that population," said George. "They are truly being affected by this epidemic."
The program is expected to start in Athens County first. The hope is to provide the service eventually statewide. The program starts in the fall.