Nothing lifts the spirits and puts a smile on a patient’s face like the tail-wagging friendliness of a pet therapy dog. We hear time and again that our canine visitors help reduce stress, pain, anxiety and loneliness, which can help the healing process. Plus, research shows that a 12-minute animal-assisted therapy (AAT) visit helps improve heart and lung functions and can drop anxiety scores by 24%.
Our volunteer dog and handler teams only visit willing hospital patients. If a patient is not able to receive visitors, then the dog and handler team may make a “door visit,” greeting the patient from the doorway. The teams also assist in the rehabilitation process, where pet therapy dogs and their trainers work with our Physical Rehabilitation Services staff.
Since the program began at NCH in 2007, the dogs have made more than 68,000 patient visits. Currently, NCH has more than 80 dog and handler teams who visit over 1000 patients per month, morning, noon and night. We continue to recruit additional therapy dog and handler teams to expand our program.
To apply for our animal-assisted therapy teams, just download an application and return it to NCH. For more details on the animal-assisted therapy program, contact Kathy King at 847‑618‑7968 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our AAT program depends on charitable donations to help cover the costs of recruitment, training, semi-annual lab testing, marketing and supplies.
A donation of any amount can go toward sponsoring a dog/handler team and is greatly appreciated. The cost to sponsor one dog/handler team for the life of their service is $350. In return for a gift of that amount or more, we honor donors by displaying their name on our AAT wall that’s prominently located in the hospital. Each plaque displays a photograph of the dog/handler team and the name of their sponsor(s).
Funds raised from sponsorships are 100% tax-deductible. Checks may be written to the Northwest Community Healthcare Foundation, a 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization. Please indicate that the donation is intended for animal-assisted therapy. Once the check is received, a follow-up letter will be sent with the tax information. Or you can Sponsor a Therapy Team online.