The Pet Care Trust Awards Grant to Children’s Hospital Boston
BEL AIR, MD, January 20, 2011 The Pet Care Trust is pleased to announce that they have awarded a grant of $5,000 to Children’s Hospital Boston, in support of the pediatric hospital’s dog visitation program. The grant will support the research project entitled, “Parent and Child Perspectives on Dog Visitation in a Pediatric Hospital,” providing much needed funding for completion of the project. The project follows the Pet Care Trust’s mission: the value of companion pets, the human animal bond, and support companion animal programs.
The dog visitation program has been operating successfully at Children’s Hospital Boston since 2003. “It’s a really fantastic program,” explains Laura Veit, research assistant on the project. “It’s a small program in the hospital and it’s only one of many offerings that the hospital provides for children and families, but we really think that dogs have a unique way of bringing smiles into the environment.” Veit says that the dogs brighten the days of everyone from staff to parents to patients. “The dogs aren’t judgmental, they’re not going to be providing any medical care, they’re not going to be giving shots or anything like that, and they don’t care about what’s going on with the children and what they look like or what might be different,” Veit says of the special way that dogs bring unconditional love to the hospital’s pediatric in-patient units.
The program usually has 10 to 12 dog and handler teams operating on a continuous basis. Each team commits to twice-monthly visits of sixty to ninety minutes, and teams visit virtually all of the pediatric hospital’s units, with the exception of the ICU. The program accepts dog that are certified by therapy dog organizations or that hold their Canine Good Citizen designation, and the program conducts their own specialized training and orientation.
It’s evident to those who have seen firsthand the positive impact the dog and handler teams have on everyone they visit that the program has been a success, but the research project will provide valuable evidence to the hospital. Veit says that another goal of the project is to establish best-practices for the program and for other hospitals who may want to start a similar visitation program. “We’re videotaping visits and are hoping to put together examples of what happens during dog visits and maybe be able to pull some best practices out of that,” Veit explains. The research project, now with almost sixty patient participants, also gathers data through pre- and post-visit questionnaires to parents and patients.
Veit says that thanks to the support received from the Pet Care Trust, the research team can complete the videotaping process as well as the analysis of the data collected. “We want to improve our program and prove to the hospital that what we do really does help,” Veit says. “But we really would like to set ourselves up as a best practice program and help other programs that are getting started or help them improve their program in any way and we’re hoping that [this grant] allows us to do that.”
The Pet Care Trust is a non-profit, charitable public foundation established in 1990. The Trust’s mission is to promote humane and responsible care and treatment of companion animals; to focus national attention on the important and vital role which responsible companion pet ownership places within society; to provide funding for pet research, special projects and education programs; to improve animal health and welfare; to support the human animal bond and interactions; to assist the public understanding of the role of the pet industry.