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Every Donation Counts

Gifts of all sizes help NCH's animal assisted therapy dogs comfort and calm our patients. To make a gift now, call the Foundation at 847.618.4260 or click here. Under "Special Instructions," be sure to type, "designate to AAT."

Dogs and Donations

NCH's canine companions help in patients' recovery

Northwest Community Healthcare's Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) dogs give gifts all year long. Every day, they give our patients special attention and comfort—gifts that help sick people calm down, cheer up or just smile.

Started as a pilot program in 2007 covering three units, the AAT program now deploys 72 specially trained dog-and-handler teams to visit patients in nearly every unit of the hospital—more than 900 visits a month. The teams get rave reviews from adults recovering from surgery, children being treated in the pediatric emergency room and adolescents battling chemical addiction at the Youth Center. Research shows that dog visits can help lower blood pressure and heart rates, relieve stress and elevate the mood of patients. Whatever the problem, a visit from a loving dog seems to make it better, both emotionally and physically. As one patient said, "What a nice way to heal your pain away. A wonderful idea."

The AAT program is also popular with donors. Free to patients and funded exclusively by charitable gifts, AAT is an appealing funding opportunity for givers at every level. Through NCH's annual Employee Giving Campaign, 15 percent of employees who designate their gifts choose to support this worthy cause—and scores of enthusiastic community members step up to sponsor AAT teams every year. While volunteers serve as handlers, donations cover the costs of training, lab testing and sanitation supplies to ensure that the program meets the highest standards of quality and safety.

Some families find that making a gift in memory of a pet lover is a fitting way to support the program. Over the holidays, Margot Hoffman made an AAT team sponsorship gift in memory of the late David Fredericksen as a Christmas gift to his mother, Elsie. A family friend, David was in product development at ITW and had both a technical mind and a kind heart.

"David was an animal lover," Margot says. "To cheer up his parents after the loss of one of their dogs, he once drove through a rain storm to pick up a new puppy for his mom and dad. He would have loved to be a part of the AAT program at NCH."

To learn more about the animal assisted therapy program at NCH, click here.

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Last Updated 04/10/2009