Pets and humans go hand and paw together. But for many people stuck in the hospital, the idea of seeing their pets before getting out of the hospital was an impossible one. Pets are not allowed in hospitals… Until recently. A new program in the Juravinski Hospital in Ontario, Canada is allowing people to see their pets in the hospital while they try to heal.
The program was created in honor of a young man named Zachary Noble by his aunt, Donna Jenkins. When Zachary was a patient himself at Juravinski Hospital battling cancer, he begged to see his dogs. And whenever he did get to see them, the calmed him and improved his condition as well as his mood, temporarily paralyzing the aggressive disease. Although he passed away from the disease in the end, Jenkins is honoring Zachary and ensuring that his legacy lives on with her foundation, Zachary’s Paws for Healing.
Together with hospital executives, medical staff and infection control, Zachary’s Paws for Healing has become the first organization in Canada to provide hospitalized patients with visits from companion animals. And the results seen in Zachary have been seen every time. Though therapy dogs have been used for years, the ability for patients to interact with their own pets is different. There is a deeper connection, and the results- improved patient moral and improvements in condition for the people and a relief from separation anxiety for the pets- is remarkable.
“So far, 25 visits have taken place between intensive care patients and their pets. Before each visit, the animals are thoroughly cleaned so as not to introduce harmful germs into the hospital. They are brought in on covered, wheeled carts and kept away from all other patients during their one hour weekly visits.” (source barkpost)
The program is limited to one hospital at the moment, but it’s continued support and momentum have given the program hope of spreading elsewhere. And one day, pets in the hospital might be a common occurrence. Additionally, the completely volunteer program hopes to offer foster care to pet owners who have to enter the hospital, in order to guarantee the safety of the pets and relieve the owners of some of the stress involved in a hospital visit. Some patients have even refused life-saving treatments in the past due to a lack of caregivers for their pets.