Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Unleashes Fun With Inaugural Dog Therapy Appreciation Day

The Amerman Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program celebrates 365
consecutive days of providing dog therapy to CHLA

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–What could be warmer and fuzzier than a cute dog? How about 20 of them
gathered together at a ‘pawty’ to celebrate a milestone occasion? That’s
what happened when Children’s
Hospital Los Angeles
declared Monday to be Dog Therapy Appreciation
Day. The hospital’s Amerman
Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program
marked a first by providing
365 consecutive days of dog therapy to CHLA patients, families and
staff. The last day without a therapy dog on the CHLA campus was April
10, 2015.

Patients, families and CHLA staff gathered at the hospital’s Ralph M.
Parson’s outdoor dining terrace to collect therapy dog trading cards and
mix and mingle with the volunteers and the therapy dogs including
Bonner, a 7-year-old Newfoundland and the program’s largest dog, and
Tina, a two-year-old Mi-Ki, the program’s smallest dog. Attendees were
also invited to get their photo taken with their favorite therapy dog at
the pawty-themed photo booth provided by Desert
Rose Photography
. While the humans did indeed have their fun, the
day was all about the hospital’s four-legged heroes. At the end of the
program, the dogs were presented with gift bags from Healthy
Spot
, and a special treat — a bone-shaped cake prepared by local
dog dessert specialists at The
Dog Bakery
in Mar Vista, Calif.

“We are so grateful to our 107 therapy dogs and our 117 volunteers who
helped us achieve this incredible goal,” says Deborah Jury, pediatric
nurse practitioner and oversight director for the AFF Dog Therapy
Program, noting that 15 years ago, “the dog therapy program was launched
with three volunteers on one unit. We’re delighted to have come so far,
and to have had an impact on so many lives.”

Erika Daniels, a 13-year-old CHLA patient who was hospitalized for five
weeks last year, says her recovery from brain surgery (which resulted in
partial paralysis and loss of speech) was greatly enhanced by the dog
therapy program.

“It was really hard to be in the hospital for five weeks,” Erika says,
noting that at times her fatigue and frustration hindered her progress
with physical therapy. “When the dogs would come to my room, of course I
wanted to pet them and play with them and in order to do that, I had to
start moving. I got stronger and learned to walk again thanks to them.
Someday I hope I can be a dog therapy volunteer with my dog Patches.”

The arrival of a dog at a patient’s room is often one of the most
anticipated parts of a child’s hospital stay, providing an opportunity
for a happy, memorable moment during what can be a very challenging
time. While patients receive the longest and most focused interactions,
dogs also lend support to siblings, parents, visitors, medical staff and
other employees.

Some other facts about the program include:

  • An average of 4 dogs per day visit CHLA.
  • The dogs and their volunteers have spent quality one-on-one time with
    more than 10,000 patients in the past year.
  • The dogs and their volunteers have logged an additional 37,500
    interactions with parents, siblings, visitors and employees.
  • Dogs visit every inpatient unit (except the part of Oncology reserved
    for BMT patients), 3 ICUs, including the heart transplant unit and
    nearly a dozen outpatient clinics.
  • Therapy dogs come in all sizes, ages, and breeds, and roughly half of
    the dogs in the program are rescues.

About The Amerman Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program

The Amerman Family Foundation Dog Therapy Program is overseen by medical
professionals from the division of Pain Management, which is part of the
department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine. Funded entirely
by donations and comprised of dogs of all ages, breeds, sizes and
backgrounds, the AFF Dog Therapy Program caters to the individual needs
and wishes of each child visited. While a majority of visits take place
in patient rooms, therapy dogs are also available to help motivate kids
during physical therapy, distract them during long or uncomfortable
procedures, and provide relief for those in pain.

About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is a nonprofit pediatric health care
organization dedicated to creating hope and building healthier futures
for children. Honored as the premier children’s hospital in California
and among the top 10 in the nation, we treat 111,000 young patients
annually from Los Angeles and around the world. As a pediatric charity
of choice, the hospital relies on the generosity of the community to
support its groundbreaking pediatric research and the complex care it
provides for critically ill and injured children.

For more information, visit CHLA.org.
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Contacts

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles
Monica Rizzo
Office: (323)
361-5745
E-mail: mrizzo@chla.usc.edu