Phoenix Children’s Hospital (PCH) is one of the nation’s leading pediatric hospitals and Arizona’s only free standing children’s hospital. PCH’s dedication to pediatrics extends to all branches of the hospital with doctors, nurses, and staff that specialize in pediatric care and a care outlook that focuses on the health and well being of the whole family.
One aspect of PCH’s care that has gained national press is their Animal-Assisted Therapy Program. This program empowers children with the ability to interact with animals, forgetting even for ten minutes, that they are in a hospital. Animal-Assisted Therapy has been shown to decrease distress during painful medical procedures, promote calmness in a child with post-traumatic stress disorder, and increase attention and positive behaviors in children with pervasive developmental disorders. A study conducted in 2009 also found that animal-assisted therapy decreased pain in pediatric patients at a rate that was four times greater than the control group that rested quietly and that the pain reduction in children participating in animal-assisted therapy was comparable to the use of oral acetaminophen in adults. This form of therapy also has a significant positive effect on patients’ moods, as animals “promote a warm and safe atmosphere that can be independently therapeutic and helps clients accept interventions offered by the treatment provider.” Additionally, the presence of a trained therapy animal can trigger “the release of endorphins in patients, which induce a feeling of well-being, and lymphocytes, which increase the immune response.”
PCH partners with PetSmart in their Paws Can Heal program. The program encourages children to take a dog for a walk or throw the dog’s toy, increasing children’s mobility and decreasing their healing time.
One PCH patient made recent headlines with “Photo Doggies for Anthony.” Anthony is a participant in the Paws Can Heal program, and his family and friends witnessed the amazing effect the therapy dogs had on his overall attitude and demeanor. However, a therapy dog was not able to visit Anthony every time he was at PCH. To help Anthony on days when therapy dogs couldn’t visit, a family friend organized a Facebook page where users could send Anthony pictures of their own dogs for him to view. To date, thousands of doggy pictures have been posted and shared with Anthony.
B3 Strategies is proud to partner with PCH and help the organization inspire good deeds around the nation, even those as simple as sending a photo of your dog. If you are interested in more information about PCH’s animal assisted therapy program or think your pet has what it takes to earn national certification as a therapy dog, visit PhoenixChildrens.org.
If you are looking for a different way to get your pet involved, the PCH Foundation will be hosting its annual “Dine With Your Dog” fundraising dinner and auction this April with gourmet meals for both people and their dogs. All proceeds from the evening will go to the PetSmart Paws Can Heal animal assisted therapy program.