Children’s Hospital Has Pet Ward

Nestle Purina donated nearly half a million dollars to the St. Louis Children’s Hospital to build a special family pet ward. The ward will have a dog bone box and a litter box for cats. The ward is for children who need to stay at the hospital for extended amounts of time and may want to visit with their family pets. Staying in a hospital can be very scary for small children, having a their best furry friend come by for an hour here and there may help ease this anxiety.

The new pet center is the third of its kind in the US to open and opened at the end of April. The idea was a no-brainer. When Nestle Purina was asked if they could help, the CEO, Joe Silberwright replied, “Why wouldn’t we do it?” and construction began for the new area.

The money from Purina is helping to build a 200 sq. foot space where children can spend a little time with their pets. The rest of the money is going towards an endowment which will support the people who will take care of the pet area.

To learn more about the new pet area, read the article here.

Image from BizJournals.

Pets Help Heal Broken Hearts

Breakups, divorce, loss of a loved one bring about a lot of emotions and can leave us feeling hurt, sad, physically exhausted, and depressed. It can take months, weeks, days to heal from loss. But there is help. An article from the Huffington Post talks about how pets can help heal a broken heart.

The physical, mental, and emotional benefits of owning a pet are known – lower stress, keep us in routines, and keep us healthier when we walk our dogs everyday. There’s also the emotional safety we have with a dog who may bark if strangers come to door and the hugs we get from our pets. How many of us hug our cat or dog when we’re sad? Cuddle with our buddies? I know I do.

Pets may not know it but they are therapeutic for us. They remind us of the little things to be grateful for each day. They can distract us for a few minutes from the depressing thoughts and loss we feel… and can make us laugh even during our darkest days. The article talks about two people who definitely needed some pet TLC in their lives and their stories sound familiar.

If you can’t have a pet right now, there are alternatives: volunteer at your local shelter, visit the pet store that has rescued animals for adoption, visit your friends who have pets and play with them while you hang out, wander to your local dog park and say hi to the furry canines who are running around and playing.

Do you have a good story of how your pet comforted you? Let us know!

Blind Dog is a Therapy Dog

Smiley, a golden retriever, is doing just what his name says, making residents of a nursing home smiley. Smiley was born without eyes and rescued from a puppy mill when he was about 1 or 2 years old. When his owner, Joanne George, first adopted him, he was scared because he had never been outside of the barn that he grew up in. But Smiley met Tyler, a deaf Great Dane and the two became best friends.

Tyler helped Smiley become the happy, playful pup Joanna knew was there underneath the fear. Smiley showed promise as being a great therapy along with Tyler. The two dogs now visit schools and hospitals. Smiley is nearly 10 years old now and he’s a favorite among those who see him at the various places.

Joanne said in the time she’s had Smiley she learned to not be his eyes, not be extra cautious, and not keep him in a bubble. She lets him be a dog which means that sometimes Smiley bumps into things and uses his feet to feel where he is going.

To read more about Smiley, check out the article on MindBodyGreen.

Pet Therapy: What It Is & How Pets Get Certified

Pet therapy is becoming more and more popular as an additional or alternate channel to helping people heal from various physical, emotional, or mental ailments. It’s also used to help people who may have learning disabilities, might be going through a tough period of time, or live with someone for life to enhance their well-being. There are many, many ways that pet therapy programs help people.

What is pet therapy?

It’s an umbrella term for animals (cats, dogs, horses, ponies, pigs, etc) who are used to help people’s health and well-being. Most commonly, when someone says, “pet therapy” they mean animal-assisted therapy where someone brings their certified pet to a facility to visit with the patients there.

There are many studies and news articles that talk about the benefits of owning a pet, and this is the next best thing. Imagine being in a hospital or nursing home and you’re not doing well, maybe you have some chronic pain in your leg and you’re just bummed out. Now, imagine that you are asked if you’d like to meet “Randy,” a black lab who is visiting patients and you agree. After petting Randy for a few minutes and seeing the tail wagging, nudge of a wet nose on your hand, and maybe even sitting for a treat you smile and laugh a little. After Randy moves on to visit some of the other patients you find yourself feeling a little better, not as down, and not focused on what’s wrong but rather, focusing on the dog that you just got to pet. That, in a simple example, is what pet therapy can be like.

Some pets who are certified to be animal-assistants will work with people who are going through physical rehab and walking a dog is part of the routine, increasing the distance a little more each time. Patients who are unable to get out of bed may be visited by smaller critters like a kitten or rabbit. There are some dolphins who are certified as animal-assisted therapy animals!

How do pets become certified?

Many towns and cities have pet therapy programs available to them through their local humane society. Attending pet events and visiting the different vendors may also help you find a program and organization that certifies pets for pet therapy.

The one trait that many pets need to have – be ok with meeting multiple types of people and remaining calm even if the people they meet aren’t (like excited children). There are other personality traits that are desired like a good listener, knows commands, and laid back.

Here are some programs that certify pets to be pet therapy dogs, cats, etc. If you think your pet might make a great pet therapy pet, check out the requirements and other information. Then see if there’s an organization in your area!

A Few Pet Therapy Programs In the US

Pet Partners – online courses and information about volunteering.
San Diego Humane Society – located in California
Humane Society of Forsyth County – located in Georgia
Seton Hospital’s Pet Therapy Program – located in Texas
Animal Rescue League of Iowa – located in Des Moines, Iowa

Image from GoFundMe

Healing Paws Program Brings Pets To The Hospital

An article in USA Today has brought to light what many of us pet owners have known for a long time: pets can help us heal. They may not be able to prescribe medication or give us solutions to problems we are facing, but by simply being there and allowing us to pet them, giving us back affection, we can heal and decrease anxiety.

Healing Paws at Wolfson Children’s Hospital in Florida is one of a growing number of dog visitation programs around the country. This program, launched in May, allows long-term pediatric patients to reunite with their family pets in a designated area near the hospital’s entrance. While therapy dogs can help and bring a smile to someone. A visit from the family pet can have a greater effect, according to Emily Patterson, an animal welfare scientist of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Family pet visitation programs in hospitals are rare because of strict medical and legal restrictions, said Sandra Barker, director of the School of Medicine Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth University. There are concerns of bringing in germs and bacteria as well as unknown elements like the type of shampoo used on the dog. Therapy dogs are typically well-screened and their medical history as well as diet and other elements are recorded to ensure no allergic reactions occur. Pets who visit must be older than 12 weeks, vaccinated, and potty-trained. While a therapy dog can bring about happiness, there is something more magical when it’s your own buddy.

“When a trained therapy dog visits, it’s like getting a strange person to perform music. It adds excitement to your day. When your dear pet visits, it’s like a friend is visiting you. It reconnects you with your community. You feel trusted and reassured,” says Emily Patterson. And we, at Pets Welcome, wholeheartedly agree. It’s amazing to see how pets are being embraced as just more than a plaything or pet. They are a member of the family and contribute love and affection in ways that are unexplainable and important.

To read the complete article, go here.

Image from USA Today