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Victims of sexual assault have reported a lack of emotional support while they are in emergency departments being treated for their trauma. While there have not been studies directly conducted on victims of sexual assault and the use of therapy dogs, therapy dogs have been studied in other populations such as military veterans with PTSD and patients in the hospital. There have been several studies conducted showing positive results of the use of the therapy dogs for quality of life, social functioning, elevated emotional health as well as physical health benefits. The proposed study from this project would be testing the therapy dogs on sexual assault victims in the emergency departments, before their SANE examination, during the exam and following them into the future if they wish. The therapy dogs would come from 4 Paws for Ability, a program in Ohio, and be testing in the emergency department of a level 1 trauma hospital in the tri state. A level 1 trauma hospital will have sexual assault nurses on call or on site at all times, this hospital will be a teaching environment so they will be open to change and innovation for this patient population. The overall outcome of this project is to educate healthcare providers and graduate students on the importance of emotional health care for patients such as victims of sexual assault.

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