New twist on virtual pet therapy: Murphy Cares uses videos of real dogs

UNIVERSITY CITY (WPVI) -- With all the ups and downs of the pandemic, stress is difficult to avoid.

So some local medical professionals have created a stress-buster that's a new twist on pet therapy.

Therapy dogs used to be a common sight at hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and kids camps.

But with the coronavirus pandemic, that's not possible.

Michele Davey, a pediatric nurse, says that's where Murphy Cares comes in.

Davey, along with pediatrician Dr. Bonnie Offit, are the co-creators of the interactive app, which features videos of real dogs.

Murphy Cares enables users to have a canine friend whenever they want.

"I grew up with dogs my whole entire life," recalls Michele.

"I wanted to be able to share that experience," she adds. "If you want the dog to have dinner with you, if you want to go for a walk with the dog, if you want to play fetch with the ball, you're with the dog," she continues.

"We have data that shows that pet therapy does help to reduce anxiety and depression," adds Dr. Claudia Baldassano, a pediatric psychiatrist whose been an adviser to the Murphy Cares creative team.

Murphy Cares is being used in 14 children's hospitals, and several companies are looking at it for their employees.

However, it's available to anyone free through the Apple app store.
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