Melton dog-owners have an opportunity to change lives by sharing the pet love around.

Animal hospital Lort Smith is calling for volunteers and their well-behaved dogs for its pet therapy program.

The program, which began in 1987, involves volunteers taking their dogs into hospitals, aged care and mental health facilities, homeless shelters, and a variety of other settings. Pet therapy aims to comfort people experiencing illness, pain, adversity and loneliness.

An information session for the western suburbs will be held at Sunshine Hospital this Thursday (January 31).

Melton resident Linda Willis has volunteered and mentored for more than four years.

“The people I have met doing pet therapy in aged care have stolen my heart,” Ms Willis said.

“I love to hear about their lives and bring them some pet joy, and a reprieve from their day to day routines.

“My confidence has grown in leaps and bounds, and I now accept so many new challenges and take them in my stride.”

Lort Smith community outreach co-ordinator Megan Nutbean said she had seen first-hand how the program transforms lives.

“In some aged care facilities we have seen people with dementia, who haven’t spoken for years, start smiling again, patting and talking to the animals,” she said.

Volunteers must have good-natured and well-behaved dogs, commit to half a day weekly or fortnightly during business hours and have their own transport. Booking for the information session is essential: www.lortsmith.com/volunteer/pettherapy