April 9, 2014 | Vol.54 N.15

Pets have a place at hospitals as wells as home

Imagine my excitement when I saw a story on MSN.living about hospitals around the country that are now allowing family pets to visit their loved ones in the hospital.

At our house, our pets are a part of our family. I have often wondered what would happen if I or anyone in my family ended up in the hospital for more than a couple of days, how our dogs would feel at home not understanding where we were and how much we would miss their cuddles and unconditional love.

I know that when I have been lying in a hospital bed for an extended stay, I enjoyed having people visit and having my kids and husband stay with me for long periods of time.

The thought of having my beloved pets lie next to me and being able to pet them could only hasten my progress or at least, help with the anxiety of a long hospital visit and sickness.

While not many hospitals are currently allowing owners to bring their pets into the hospital, there are several across the country who are seeing nothing but positive results from these endeavors.

One pediatric hospital in Jacksonville, Florida saw immediate results. “Many of our patients are in a lot of pain and missing their best friends and no matter how familiar a patient becomes with the hospital setting, it’s still the hospital setting. The dogs get so excited to see their human again, and the kids really perk up when they know their pet is going to visit,” she says. “If we can make their day a little bit brighter by bringing in their best friend, we consider that an accomplishment.”

Many hospitals offer pet therapy where specially trained pets come to a hospital or other health care facility and visit the sick patients. While this has been helpful for many patients, evidence shows that when it is your own pet it helps heal not only the patient but helps with the pets anxiety of not seeing their human as well.

I can only imagine the joy a terminally ill patient would receive as they lay dying in a care center or hospital when they see their beloved cat or dog walk through the door. I am sure that the affects of that reunion are immeasurable.

I hope that we will soon see our local hospitals take a serious look at the possibility of allowing patients, especially long term patients, having their pets visit them in the hospital. I know that it will brighten not only the patient’s day but also will help in their recovery. I have no doubt that it would mine.

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