LOUIS (BUSINESS WIRE) – St. Louis Children’s Hospital has teamed up with PetSmart to help fund the hospital’s pet therapy program that will provide thousands of patients with access to canine comfort teams through PetSmart Paws for Hope, which kicked off on Oct. 30. PetSmart will fund the program at a commitment of $250,000 over five years.
“At PetSmart, we know the power of pets and their ability to help patients heal,” said David Lenhardt, president and chief executive officer of PetSmart. “Partnerships, like this one with St. Louis Children’s Hospital, make a world of difference to the sick children. I look forward to seeing them expand their pet therapy teams to positively impact even more young lives.”
Support from PetSmart will allow St. Louis Children’s Hospital to grow their Therapy of Unique Canine Helpers (TOUCH) Dog Program to double the number of dogs participating and hire a part-time coordinator to oversee the program.
“We are grateful for the incredible generosity from PetSmart, which enables us to significantly enhance our TOUCH Dog Program,” said Joan Magruder, St. Louis Children’s Hospital president. “This partnership is a great example of what happens when members of the community band together to make a difference in the lives of sick children.”
This is the fifth national partnership of its kind between PetSmart and a hospital pet therapy program; existing programs include Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Orlando Health, Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and SickKids Hospital Toronto.
In 2012, PetSmart teamed up with Phoenix Children’s Hospital to sponsor their first animal-assisted therapy program, PetSmart Paws Can Heal. The initial launch was such a success that PetSmart expanded the program to hospitals throughout the country with PetSmart Paws for Hope, with expansion to Orlando Health earlier this year.
The program creates additional pet therapy teams in hospitals and allows for more daily visits from a therapy animal for each patient. Additionally, the program provides support for the patients and their families. PetSmart plans to expand this program into at least three new hospitals across the country every year, with Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, kicking off later this year.
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