Emotional support pets can help close the gap between despair and wellness. Research shows that spending time with pets can reduce pain, anxiety, depression and fatigue in people with a wide range of health issues, and those staying in long-term care facilities.
At Purina’s Better with Pets summit in New York last week, we learned how passion for pets builds a better world at St Louis Children’s Hospital. Roben Harris told us about the bond between her daughter, a victim of Spina Bifida, and their labradoodle.
Her daughter has spent her life having surgeries, and time spent away from her beloved mutt was worse than the pain from any procedure. Unfortunately, pets are usually not permitted in hospitals. But lucky for them, St Louis Children’s Hospital became the fourth in the world to provide a pet center on site.
“Our doctors see every day the importance of medicine and world class technology,” says Jill Malan, manager of Child Life Services at SLCH “We see every day the impact a child’s emotional wellbeing has on their overall recovery.”
Malan proposed the idea of a room at the hospital which could facilitate visits between patients and their cats and dogs.
“As soon as she suggested it, I knew we had to make it happen,” says Larry Vancil, director of facility services at Children’s.
Vancil approached the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation; the Foundation contacted Purina, and Purina enthusiastically agreed to support the construction and staffing of the center with a gift of $450,000. The Purina Family Pet Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital officially opened with a ribbon tugging, led by a Golden Retriever-Labrador mix named “Happy Jack” earlier this year. (Yep, Happy Jack looks pretty darned happy!)
“At Purina we believe that pets and people are better together, and our friends at St. Louis Children’s Hospital clearly share our belief,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, Purina president. “Our goal for the Purina Family Pet Center is to bring joy and comfort to children and their families by helping them reunite with their pets during their stay.”
The 300-square-foot room, adjacent to the hospital’s second-floor entrance, features washable surfaces and windows to provide natural light. It can accommodate a child in a wheelchair or hospital bed, and provides a comfortable, private visiting space for the child, pet and family. It will also include toys for the pets and Purina treats the patients can feed their pets. (Yes, kittehs, that means PARTY MIX!!!!!)
Purina’s animal behavior experts participated in the planning and design of the new pet-friendly center to ensure that visit between the dogs, cats and families are as pleasant, safe and fun as possible. Purina behaviorists provided insights on the type of construction materials, access flow for the pets, furniture, paint colors and photos that will make the space warm and welcoming for the families and pets.
“We are so grateful to have received this gift,” says Flip Becker, senior director with the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Foundation. “I know what a difference this will make in the lives of our patients – a difference only made possible through the generous support of Purina.”
THE FINE PRINT: Purina Pet Care sponsored Mousebreath’s attendance at Better With Pets. We are enthusiastic fans of Purina, and hope you will be, too. #betterwithpets #letslivebig #spons