Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Acute Care Hospital

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Paws 4 Therapy, Inc. specializes in bringing animal-assisted therapy to the acute care hospital environment.  Utilizing the power of the human-animal bond, an animal-assisted therapy program can bring these proven benefits to your institution:

  • Improved patient satisfaction & loyalty 
  • Improved employee satisfaction & retention
  • Enhanced hospital community image
  • Free multimedia coverage
  • Additional charitable contributions


Paws 4 Therapy, Inc. is experienced in the planning and implementation of animal-assisted therapy in the acute care setting.  Implementation of high quality, the hospital-based program is multi-faceted.  Key success factors include:

  • Upper-level administrative support
  • Medical staff acceptance
  • Policies and procedures for infection control
  • Visiting guidelines
  • Recruitment, screening, and training of dog/handler teams
  • Nurse education
  • Documentation and data collection 
  • Fund-raising

Animal-Assisted Therapy Manual Available Now…

As seen in Modern Healthcare Magazine…

Developing and Implementing Animal-Assisted Therapy for the Acute Care Hospital Setting

This is the first complete step-by-step manual for promoting, developing and implementing an animal-assisted therapy program in the acute care hospital.  This unique manual is based on one of the largest animal-assisted therapy programs in the country.  It is designed to save you hundreds of hours of time and thousands of dollars in development costs.  A hospital that implemented this program realized the following benefits:

  • 20-40% Increased patient satisfaction scores (Press Ganey)
  • $200,000+ Charitable contributions raised over a 2-year period
  • 16+ Newspaper articles generated
  • 24,000+ Bedside patient visits with no incidence of nosocomial infections
  • Improved employee satisfaction, recruitment & retention  

Table of  Contents:

  • Section 1:  Introduction to AAT
  • Section 2:  Program Development
  • Section 3:  Recruitment, Screening, & Selection of Volunteers
  • Section 4:  Veterinary Screening, Training, and Certification
  • Section 5:  Data Tracking & Documentation
  • Section 6:  Sustaining Your Program through Fund-raising
  • Section 7:  The Domino Effect & Troubleshooting
  • Section 8:  References & Articles

Paws 4 Therapy, Inc.: The Company

Paws 4 Therapy, Inc. was incorporated in 2002.  The President of the company, Patty Kaplan, RN, BSN, has vast experience in training dogs and horses. Her work experience includes critical care nursing, nurse management, and medical equipment sales.

Patty contracted with Edward Hospital in Naperville, Illinois, to develop and implement an animal-assisted therapy program.  One year later, this 250-bed acute care facility had developed one of the largest animal-assisted therapy programs in the country.  Sixty-four dog/handler teams visit patients daily at the bedside.  Participating units include the Cardiovascular Care Unit, Ortho/ Neuro, Medical/Surgical, Outpatient Oncology, and Pediatrics.  The dog/handler teams are also on call for the CARE Clinic, which examines children that are suspected victims of sexual abuse.

The program’s success exceeded all expectations and quickly gained the recognition and respect of the senior administration, medical staff, employees, Board of Trustees and the surrounding community.  In fact, the hospital was the benefactor of many newspaper articles, a 30-minute public TV special feature, national TV coverage on ABC News and WGN radio, and was published in Modern Healthcare Magazine (October 13, 2003).   

“I’ve never had a more enjoyable stay at a hospital.  The dogs made me feel great”  Hospital Patient

“The doggies made my day, every day.  Please don’t stop this program”  Hospital Patient

“To a person, our staff, patients and visitors have enjoyed the addition of the animals to our campus.  They have made a difference in morale for staff and patients alike…This program has been one of the most stellar additions I have seen at Edward.”  Pam Davis, President/CEO