“The idea of going to play with the therapy dogs motivated Lane to get out of bed for the first time,” said Lane’s mom, Tina, with tears in her eyes. “He smiled the whole time and really opened up to the team about his love for dogs and our dogs back home.”
Lane, 17 years old, was at Children’s National for most of the summer. He needed several rounds of antibiotics for Crohn’s disease. What he found he needed more was the unconditional and spirited love of four-legged friends before he felt like himself again.
The Animal Visitation and Pet Therapy program is very popular with patients and families. It provides a healthy diversion— easing anxieties, increasing confidence, and encouraging cooperation. The PetSmart Charities’ grant will expand the program to include a full-time coordinator to increase visits in the hospital and outpatient clinics. With this funding support, we hope to expand from three dog and handler volunteer teams to up to 30 by 2019.
"We are so grateful for this generous gift from PetSmart Charities," said Kurt Newman, MD, President and CEO at Children’s National. “We always look for new ways to provide a holistic and integrated atmosphere for our patients. This support will enhance the experience of our patients, such as Lane—bringing joy, comfort, and unique therapeutic benefits to children for years to come.”
David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D., president of PetSmart Charities, said, “In addition to providing comfort to young patients while they are receiving lifesaving treatments, families and staff members at Children’s National can all benefit from the healing powers of the human-animal bond. Expanding the Animal Visitation and Pet Therapy Program will bring more people in need unconditional love and a refreshing diversion from what can be a very stressful experience. We are excited to partner with Children’s National to bring more smiles to those in need with the help of their two-legged and four-legged volunteers.”
Much like our furry, four-legged volunteers, you can also support patients and families at Children's National. Visit childrensnational.org/giving to learn more about providing financial and volunteer support.