Saturday, September 1, 2012

A very special visit

Today my dog Cindy (who served as a mobility service dog for me after I suffered a back injury a year ago) got to visit my grandpa in the hospital. He was so happy to see her, and she was so excited to see him! Here's a video clip of their visit. This just goes to show how deep the human-animal bond can be and how much therapy animals really do help patients. This short visit had the entire staff a-buzz with everyone wanting to come meet her. It is my hope that the hospital higher-ups will consider starting a therapy dog program soon. :-)

If you are considering bringing your dog to a hospital to visit a friend or family member, there are a lot of steps that you need to take before your pet is allowed inside. Hospitals are held to high sanitation standards and bringing animals in can introduce contaminants into the hospital environment that may affect the health of patients who are immunocompromised or otherwise need a sterile environment. You should check with your hospital's CNA first and find out what protocols your hospital has in place first.

Some of the steps we took to bring Cindy to visit the hospital included:
- Having her groomed, nails trimmed and teeth brushed the day of her visit. I took it a step further and brought pet wipes to wipe her paws once we got inside the lobby.
- Have your veterinarian write a letter certifying your pet is in good health.
- A copy of your pet's vaccination records and rabies certificate.
- The CNA in charge of the floor where the patient you want to visit will need to communicate with the house supervisor and infection control department to notify them of the visit as well.

I hope you find this helpful. Please ensure that your pet is friendly and able to tolerate the sometimes stressful and usually highly stimulating hospital environment before you think about bringing them. The more positive experiences that hospitals have with well mannered pets, the more likely they are to allow pets again in the future. Only through successful incident-free visits can your pet help to be an ambassador for other therapy and companion animals to be able to make hospital visits in the future. All it takes is one bad experience for a hospital to close its mind off to allowing pets again in the future, so if you do not think your pet will tolerate being in this kind of situation, please consider bringing photos and videos instead.

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