Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai has received its first facility dog through the launch of Paws and Play, a facility dog program. The program, made possible by a grant from PetSmart Charities, brings Professor Bunsen Honeydew to the Hospital. The $350,000 grant, which will be distributed over the next three years, is designed to help launch the first program of its kind at the hospital.
A facility dog is an animal specially trained to work in the health care environment. Professor is an 18-month-old goldendoodle who recently completed a high-level therapy dog training program where he was exposed to a variety of environments and experiences to prepare him to work with the children and families.
His presence will allow the Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department to integrate Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) into their pediatric programming. AAT is a goal-directed intervention in which the animal is an integral part of the treatment plan, addressing a variety of clinical goals including pain management, procedural support, socialization, motivation and the improvement of patient temperament. Paws and Play is the first program of its kind in New York State to pair a Certified Child Life Specialist with a trained facility dog to provide AAT.
Certified Child Life specialists Ali Spike and Toshiko Nonaka will work with Professor Honeydew across a variety of settings, assisting patients experiencing painful or anxiety-inducing procedures, long hospitalizations and lengthy treatments, including chemotherapy. He will work primarily in the Blau Center for Children’s Cancer and Blood Disease and the Alice Gottesman Bayer Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. When Professor is not onsite, he will live with his primary handler, Ms. Spike, enjoying his time off at the park and on the couch.
“Thanks to our partnership with PetSmart Charities, the pediatric patients and families at the Kravis Children’s Hospital now have an additional member on their support team,” said Diane Rode, director, Child Life and Creative Arts Therapy Department, Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai. “Professor Bunsen Honeydew will work side by side with a certified child life specialist to enhance patients’ social, emotional, and/or cognitive functioning and increase their overall coping and adjustment.”
PetSmart Charities recently expanded its mission to include finding lifelong, loving homes for all pets by supporting programs and leadership that bring people and pets together. This new mission allows the organization to support animal welfare organizations in more ways than ever before, and can even reach other nonprofits, like Kravis Children’s Hospital at Mount Sinai, that help connect people and pets. The new “Enhancing the Quality of Life Through Pets” grant category, open year-round for applications, supports programs that train pets to become service animals for military veterans or people with disabilities and for pet therapy programs at places such as hospitals, schools and senior homes.
“The healing power of pets is evident in times of need when four-legged friends provide great joy, emotional support and even therapy to young patients, their families and hospital staff,” said David Haworth, DVM, PhD, president of PetSmart Charities. “Through our partnership with Mount Sinai’s Paws and Play program, we look forward to seeing the impact that pets will have in reducing the stress and easing the anxieties often associated with receiving hospital treatment at a young age. We are thrilled to help them launch the first facility dog program of its kind in New York.”
Since 2012, with the help of donations made by generous PetSmart shoppers, PetSmart and PetSmart Charities have committed more than $3 million to support pet-assisted therapy programs at hospitals across the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico.