When Ashton was a senior in high school, a blood test during a standard football physical revealed that he had leukemia. Ashton spent more than two years at Phoenix Children’s receiving treatment. At one point, he grew severely depressed and wouldn’t talk to anyone, see anyone or even watch TV. But when an Animal-Assisted Therapy team poked their heads in his Hospital room and asked if he would like to have a visit with Dorothy, a poodle in the Animal-Assisted Therapy program, Ashton agreed. Dorothy curled up on the foot of Ashton’s bed and they spent the afternoon together. The visit left him feeling encouraged and smiling, ready to continue his fight. Dorothy and Ashton had weekly visits throughout the remainder of Ashton’s treatment, reducing his stress levels, and providing him with an important sense of well-being. Ashton is now in remission. His visits with Dorothy were so meaningful that he purchased a poodle of his own, Shelby, and hopes to train her as an Animal-Assisted Therapy dog one day.
ANIMAL-ASSISTED THERAPY AT PHOENIX CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL
Animals have been an important part of the healing environment at Phoenix Children's Hospital since the very beginning. It all started when a veterinarian brought three rabbits - Leslie, Cocoa and Thumper - to the Hospital and told patients the rabbits were there to receive exams. The children loved it.
Recreational therapists and Child Life Assistants soon set out to convince Hospital administrators of the importance of a full-fledged Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) Program. Today, Animal-Assisted Therapy at Phoenix Children's is one of the Hospital's most valued family-centered care programs. Forty-five registered dog teams provide the benefits of AAT to children and their families with increased demand from physicians for these therapeutic visits. In 2018, our AAT teams made more than 11,500 bedside visits. These specially certified, gentle dogs make "ruff" days easier, but they're helping patients heal, too.
HOSPITALIZED CHILDREN NEED MORE THAN JUST GREAT MEDICAL CARE...
Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) delivers valuable physical and emotional benefits to children facing serious illnesses or injuries. Animal interactions reduce stress levels and invoke a sense of well-being. In addition, AAT acts as a catalyst to motivate patients to help themselves. A child who is withdrawn or too tired to participate in physical therapy may happily take a dog for a walk or throw the dog a ball. It can help them to forget their pain for a little while, moving them one step closer to going home.
Visits conducted via Animal-Assisted Therapy comfort, motivate and heal our patients like no other program can. It encourages them to get up, move, walk, leave their room and play; participate in therapy (physical, occupational and speech therapy); forget their pain; interact more with others; and do things that might be a struggle, like eating, taking medication or waiting for a procedure.
Animal-Assisted Therapy is just one of 60 programs Phoenix Children’s offers to make the Hospital more comfortable for our young patients – a program that relies solely on charitable gifts. Help us fund 15 Animal-Assisted Therapy teams at Phoenix Children’s Hospital by making a donation towards our $30,000 goal to continue providing world-class care for our most fragile patients.
STATS & FACTS
- $30,000 will provide training, infection control, uniforms, supplies & materials for 15 PCH therapy animal teams
- 42 to 50 hours of therapy dogs are with patients per week
- 22-26 therapy teams spend 2-3 hours with patients per week
- On average, therapy teams visit 11,500+ patients per year
- 1,500 will fund one therapy team for one year
Healing "Pawsibilities": Your gift supports Animal-Assisted Therapy