For animal lovers, cuddling up with our pets is a indisputable way to calm us down, improve our disposition, and simply help us feel better. At one Canadian treatment center, they’ve taken this idea to heart. They’ve realized that a major illness is one of the most traumatic events a human being will ever go through.
The program, adopted by The Juravinski Hospital, allows dogs and cats to come and visit their acutely ill owners, which helps reduce stress and improves their morale.
The program is the brain child of an extraordinary young man named Zachary Noble and his aunt, Donna Jenkins. When Zachary found himself hospitalized at the Juravinski Hospital as he battled cancer, he would beg to see his dogs.
Even though he passed away from the disease, the visits that he had with the dogs always led to improvements in his condition and his outlook. Jenkins is now honoring Zachary and making sure that his legacy lives on with her foundation, Zachary’s Paws for Healing.
Working together as a team, hospital executives, medical staff and infection control have found a way to make Zachary’s Paws for Healing the first organization in Canada to give patients who are hospitalized the option to get visits from their beloved animals.
For years, therapy dogs have been used with wonderful results, but this particular program lets patients see and visit with their own fur babies. Besides helping out with patient morale, the program also helps out the pets as well, because many of them experience separation anxiety when their human isn’t around.
Up to now, 25 visits have taken place between patients in intensive care and their pets. But, before a visit can happen, the animals must be thoroughly cleaned so that they don’t introduce any germs that could be harmful into the hospital.
They’re transported in on a covered, wheeled cart and kept far away from the other patients during their hour long weekly visits.
Jenkins is elated with the momentum that the Zachary’s Paws for Healing program has gained and would love to see it expand to other hospitals. Besides the companion pet hospital visits, the 100% volunteer program also has intentions to provide pet owners that have to go into the hospital for treatment, foster care for their fur babies, if they should need it.
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