UCLA People-Animal Connection (PAC) is one of the most comprehensive Animal-Assisted Therapy and Activity (AAT/A) programs in the nation. PAC volunteer teams (consisting of the canine and his/her human partner) offer companionship and warmth to more than 1,000 critically ill children and adults per month. Since its inception in 1994, PAC teams have recorded more than 120,000 in-patients visits, as well as hundreds of thousands unrecorded visits to families and guests to UCLA medical centers and community events.
PAC welcomed a special team at its monthly Pet Visit Station in July. Hospital visitors, patients, and staff had a blast horsing around with Blue Moon, a miniature therapy horse from the Malibu Mountains, and her handler, Victoria. As the first therapy animal other than a dog to visit Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in 24 years, the 28-inch tall mini-horse was a delightful surprise. She amazed the crowd with various tricks, such as her dazzling smile, “high-fives,” and keyboard playing. Everyone at the Pet Visit Station had the opportunity to stroke Blue Moon’s remarkably soft mane and coat and take pictures with her. Her cheerful disposition and prancing for the camera, as well as love of children and adults alike, attracted visitors of all ages. Blue Moon is one of eight miniature therapy horses owned by Victoria. Trained and tested for therapy work in hospitals, much like the PAC dogs, Blue Moon often works at the VA hospital, with the Sheriff’s Department, and in schools and libraries.