Dog Therapy - A Furry Kind of Medicine
Our new dog is here! Welcome to Kimono!
We are excited to welcome Kimono to the Dog Therapy Program at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospitals. Kimono has been specially trained by Canine Companions for Independence and will visit patients in San Francisco with Eileen McCree, a certified child life specialist and Kimono's handler.
Combining the expertise of a child life specialist with a highly-trained facility dog creates magic for our patients. It's no surprise that all the tail wagging and furry snuggles brighten a child's spirits. Our patients anxiously wait for the visits with our facility dog and that quickly becomes the happiest part of their day.
But the scientifically proven benefits of animal-assisted therapy go well beyond this. Animal-assisted therapy provides measurable improvements in blood pressure and cardiovascular health, increased endorphin release as well as many emotional and mental health benefits like encouraging communication and decreasing feelings of isolation and depression. As well, Kimono has been trained in over 40 commands to provide assistance with a variety of patients' conditions. Having Kimono present before a scary procedure helps to lower anxiety and distract patients from their pain, and walking with her can motivate patients to complete physical therapy.
Even with all the proven medical benefits, animal-assisted therapy and child life specialists are not covered by insurance. Our dog therapy program depends on your private donations. Canine Companions for Independence generously provides facility dogs to our hospitals free of charge. But our costs begin there. Every dog in the program is assigned to a certified child life specialist who supervises all patient interactions and cares for the dog full time. The $100,000 annual cost per dog includes the crucial expertise of the supervising child life specialist and allows us to bring this special program to patients 40 hours every week.
Unfortunately, Kimono can't do it all alone. One dog and child life specialist pair are only able to reach 12% of hospitalized patients on a full-time schedule.
You can transform a child's life with your giving. Every gift up to $10,000 will be matched dollar to dollar by a generous benefactor, doubling your impact. Your donation helps bring more dogs to the hospitals and means that more children and teens will be able to receive this specialized care. Please give today!
If you would like to make a special gift or want to learn about naming the program, please contact Amelia LaPlante at (415) 502-6225 or Amelia.LaPlante@ucsf.edu.
Click here to learn more about Canine Companions for Independence and Kimono's path to UCSF.